Rithika Pandey's surreal, dream-like paintings make heavy use of pattern and saturated, fauvist interiors. They are like invented fantasy rooms populated by lone figures and wild animals. Raised first in Northern Africa, then in Mumbai, India, Pandey's paintings are informed by a unique cultural mix. "I like to imagine that I filter the world through these intricate webs of pulsating colors I've conjured in my mind," she says. Rithika was never drawn to art through any specific encounter or moment of epiphany, but rather "like an impulse, like picking up a glass of water to drink because you're thirsty. A part of you needs gratification and you perform the deed that mellows that hyperactivity within."
In Safe Zone Underground (2019) we see a tiny figure in a technicolor spacesuit reclining on a giant snake-tailed panther. They are on a rug, under a chandelier in a brightly patterned room. It is an impulse towards safety to wear a full suit and helmet while riding a wildcat, but these are scary times and I'm sure each of us would appreciate the protection of an oversized panther.
In Alternate Space (2019) there is a lone figure wearing a polka dot bodysuit walking into a room where a snake waits on the red floor. The scene is seen through a rectangular window mimicking the edge of the painting and gently riffing on the illusory qualities of painting, itself. The room is loaded with symbols— a broken disc, a single goblet, a picture of two birds above the hallway, a red ball, a green chair. The symbols aren't necessarily culturally specific or drawn directly from memory. "I look into these spaces for inspiration and also to push myself to look beyond," she says.
In Anxiety Room (Area 10) (2019) the artist has depicted a giant floating head opposite a reclining nude figure. The floating head is looking towards the figure lounging with a look between a modeling shoot and a therapy session. The dark-skinned figures in Pandey's work look like a folk art take on Kerry James Marshal's figures. They are self-assured, playful, curious, colorful, and glamorous— like fabulous avatars roaming an invented world.
Follow along on Instagram to see what she’s up to next! @chashmishkahiki