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Beauty amid the maddening crowd
NIDHI GUPTA  6th May 2012

Imagine

or airhostess-turned-artist Vallery Puri, looking upon the world from a bird's eye view must be a regular fare. In her latest solo exhibition, titled One Billion Plus, she seems to be gazing upon the world from the distant gaze of a practised voyeur, focussing on this nation of excesses, but rendering it with an immediacy we've all felt, perhaps, when we're stuck in traffic jams or walking down the roads of busy metropolises.

"I've basically tried to impress the facts of life as an Indian in a lighter vein. We're a country milling with people, cows, dreams, aspirations, cars, desires – but that doesn't necessarily have to be all wrong. More people obviously mean more creativity, and that can only be a good thing," she chirps in a sing-song voice.

In the first of a three-part exhibition, Urbanesque, her canvasses explode in a burst of colour which we probably miss as we journey through our mundane lives. While Cows, Cars and Condominiums would make you laugh with its spot-on carting of a traffic jam, Bursting is a more sombre view on society, with thousands of eyes resting upon you, the audience.

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I’ve basically tried to impress the facts of life as an Indian in a lighter vein. We’re a country milling with people, cows, dreams, aspirations, cars, desires – but that doesn’t necessarily have to be all wrong.

Next, in the section titled Gods and Goddesses, she transports our deities into ordinary climes of human life. Goddess Kali finds calm amid flowers and greenery, lord Shiva is less a vision of all-consuming power and more a man with familial responsibilities, romance and celebration keep them hinged to life. "When I was researching for this, I came across 320 websites on Google dedicated to stories about gods. Faith dominates most Indians' lives. Our gods even find space under roadside trees!" she says.

The last section, which she calls Dreams, is essentially a window into her own flights of fancy. "Our dreams don't take up space, crowd or pollute our breathing air or cause any harm. In fact, they inspire us to move mountains and create a more wonderful world," she says in an introduction. In these paintings, she paints her own desire for an idyllic life, surrounded by nature and living in peace and harmony, with her cat for company.

Though the themes that she has chosen lack imagination, seeing as they've been covered vastly through all forms of art, it is her technique that stands out. Caricatures steeped in round brush strokes, vivid colours and extensive textures give her otherwise static images a distinct visual appeal. "We forget to see the colours that surround us, even in our dreary urban scapes. Colour means hope to me. I don't think I can be judgemental about man and his mistakes because it is from these alone that one can learn and move forward," she muses. Perhaps there is a degree of transcendence to be found in these innocent canvasses as well.

 
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