Chinmayee Pradhan is a London-based Indian artist whose practice explores themes of gender, identity, power dynamics, and technology within South Asian culture.
Inspired by Hindu mythology and its intersections with modern life, Chinmayee interrogates the disjunction between a culture that worships powerful goddesses like Kali, but whose women still have to navigate patriarchal structures. Past projects include the multi-media installation "The Cyborg Goddess" advocating a fusion of mechanical and the divine, and the photographic series Mother and Machines/Alien Mother depicting the artist’s mother surrounded by household appliances in various domestic settings. “Even though these machines are made for women to use, they have designs that cater more towards the comfort of men, be it a mixer or a vehicle,” Chinmayee explains.
Having graduated earlier this year with an MA in Art and Science from Central Saint Martins, Chinmayee’s degree show installation was shortlisted for the 2023 Cass Art Award. Inspired by her childhood in Odisha in Eastern India – where she returned to live for several years during the COVID-19 pandemic – Chinmayee’s practice is infused with Hindu mythological stories recounted by her grandfather, and with an awareness of the millenia-old temple art and architecture of her province. Her postcolonial, feminist practice encompasses several mediums: from flat acrylic mural paintings to multi-media installations, embroidery, video and photography. “I want my practice to be a middle ground between a new world of digital and domestic technologies and an old world of traditional crafts and myth,” Chinmayee explains.
Chinmayee makes work that demystifies female experience, spaces, sexuality and bodily experience, all within the context of South Asian culture. Many of her works explore the female body and to what extent women have control over the depictions, pleasures and types of labour their bodies experience or perform. “When I start making, it’s always a very basic idea in my head. I love testing out materials, placing so many different materials together in a maximalist approach,” Chinmayee explains. Her recent work uses not only traditional female crafts like beading and textiles, but also the colour red symbolising religious ritual and divine violence.
This year, Chinmayee is continuing to expand her skills in oil painting, soft robotics and electrical repairs. “In India there is a culture of fixing appliances yourself, salvaging parts and reusing appliances. I want to apply this mindset to my own work,” she says. “As an artist, I want to be constantly learning and refining.”