Pop Art iconography a hit with collectors

AVANTI NIMavantin@sph.com.sg
IN under three years, Sukeshi Sondhi has managed to sell more than 50 canvases - not bad for a new artist. Most of them are screenprint paintings of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, rendered in a Pop Art style popularised by iconic artist Andy Warhol.
The collection of works is titled An Icon and a Legend. She explains, "People think the icon and the legend both stand for Mr Lee, but actually, the icon is Mr Lee and the legend is Warhol."
Originally from India, Sondhi became a Singapore citizen five years ago. While attending a Warhol exhibition at the ArtScience Museum in Marina Bay Sands in 2012, she was approached by a gallerist to submit her works to an upcoming exhibition titled Your Singapore, which was funded by the Singapore Tourism Board.
Sondhi had already been doing Indian Pop Art and she wanted to deepen her connection with Singapore. She picked Mr Lee as the subject because "he is the only person who is truly iconic in Singapore", she says.
"Also, Warhol and Mr Lee are contemporaries who both rose to fame in the 1960s," she adds.
Of the many available pictures of Mr Lee throughout the decades, Sondhi settled on a youthful image of him from the 1960s, one she calls "Man on a Mission." To her, the expression on Mr Lee's face conveys the idea that he is "going to conquer the world and put us on a map... he looks regal and charismatic".
Like Warhol's depiction of famous figures such as Marilyn Monroe and John Lennon, Sondhi repeats this one image several times using different colours and on different canvases to emphasise Mr Lee's iconic status.
The paintings have been a hit with collectors, with some buying more than one canvas to give their friends and loved ones.
Senior banker Eugene Yang, a repeat client of hers, bought three paintings. He says, "Other artists take a sombre approach when depicting Mr Lee, but Sukeshi has captured him at his fiery best - this is a man you'd want to meet."
Ms Sondhi's paintings range from S$800 to S$5,000, depending on size, and are available for purchase via her website sukeshisondhi.com