Thursday, 26 August 2021

Chila Burman x Covent Garden

The Colour Feed:

An explosion of patterns, prints and neon lights has erupted in London’s Covent Garden thanks to the creative artistry and colourful vision of British-Punjabi Artist Dr Chila Kumari Singh Burman. “do you see words in rainbows” is a site-specific immersive art installation that opened today. 

You can spot the wonderment of what’s in store as you exit the tube and head towards the market. Even from that distance, Chila’s proud neon white tiger that sits atop of a mirror plinth draws you in, leading you to the entrance of the North Piazza. The surrounding pillars are emblazoned with digitally printed collages that depict some of the iconic work created throughout Chila’s career including the glittery ice cream cones that appeared in her piece 'Corners and Screwballs Go Vegas' and 'Punjabi Rockers', and which are also a nod to her dazzling Tate Britain winter commission where she transformed the façade of the gallery for Diwali last year.

Chila is celebrated for her radical feminist practice which examines representation, gender and cultural identity, apparent throughout the installation and overt on one of the panels that forms a giant octagon centerpiece that sits across the market hall ceiling, emblazoned with the words 'valiant queens rule.' You may not see it the first time you walk around the installation, as each time you look up there’s something else to spot and appreciate. At eye level you'll see bold psychedelic prints while neon animals precide over hopeful, postive words like 'love', 'shine' and 'light.'

Speaking at the launch event Chila dedicated the installation to her parents and admitted that much of the inspiration came from annual childhood trips to Blackpool, describing the installations as a ‘Blackpool version of Covent Garden’ with a ‘real feminist vibe to it,’ referencing that her use of colour is very much a part of her Punjabi heritage. She also shared that whenever her family had visitors from India, they’d take them to Blackpool, the quintessential British seaside town known for its lights - which  is also going to be home to her next major public art display. 

Sharing her enthusiasm for working in the medium of light Chila said: “It’s great to be doing these neons, I never thought I’d make neons but they’re great fun ‘cos they’re all bendy and it’s got me back into drawing again.”

The rainbow theme of the installation is a celebration of love and identity and one of the neon panels she has designed says ‘Pyar hi Pyar’ the Hindi words for ‘love is love.’ The support for the LBGTQI+ community doesn’t stop there.  For every person that Instagrams a photo of themselves at the installation with the hashtag #CoventGardenInRainbows, £1 will be donated to LGBTQI+ charity Albert Kennedy Trust.

Chila’s joyful artwork will stay up in the South Hall of the market until October, it’s free to visit so you can go as many times as you like, night and day, to really appreciate the neon glows. Chila  is also in the longlist for the Dezeen Awards in the 'Design Studio of the Year' .

Website: Chila Kumari Burman