Working intuitively, sculptor Mrinalini Mukherjee combines elements drawn from mythology and nature to create her large-scale sculptures known for their evocation of sensuality and fecundity, and movement and vitality.Read More
Mrinalini Mukherjee was born to Benode Behari Mukherjee and Leela Mukherjee, themselves artists, and grew up in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, located near the Himalayan foothills—a location that later surfaced in the scenery of her work. After graduating from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in 1970, she studied mural design under KG Subramanyan, whose emphasis on borrowing from traditional Indian art and craft similarly influenced Mukherjee's practice.
In 1978, Mukherjee travelled on a British Council Scholarship for Sculpture to study at the West Surrey College of Art and Design for a year. Throughout the early 1970s, Mukherjee had established a practice of creating fibre sculptures in New Delhi, which began gaining critical attention, leading to her first solo exhibition at Shridharani Art Gallery in 1972.
Mukherjee's fibre sculptures, which began as wall-based works, consist of densely knotted hemp or jute ropes that are defined by bright colouration. Often drawing their names from Hindu mythology, such as Nag Devta (1979) and Black Devi (1980), they stem from the vernacular statues of deities and spirits that she encountered in local temples and shrines throughout India. Abstracted yet anthropomorphic, Mukherjee's fibre sculptures make ample references to symbols of fertility and sexuality.
Continuing to employ dyed fibre ropes into the 1980s, Mukherjee's monumental creations involved a laborious process, yielding only a few works per year including Van Raja I (1981) and Yakshi (1984), among others. During this period, the artist also produced etchings that recall scenes from her youth in Northern India.
By the mid-1990s, Mukherjee began experimenting with ceramic. Using a dome-shaped base, she layered slabs of clay over one another to create contorted forms such as the 13 terracotta sculptures in Lotus Pond (1995), which feature folds and protrusions that evoke mouths, foliage, or tubes.
Mukherjee's next venture in the early 2000s was with bronze and reflects the influence of her mother, who also worked with the medium. Mrinalini Mukherjee employed the lost-wax technique to create abstract works such as 'Cluster' (2006–2008) and 'Palmscape' (2013), whose surfaces have been finished with tools sourced from a dentist, creating flowing and textured bronze pieces that seemingly defy gravity.
Bagh, Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai (2020); Phenomenal Nature, The Met Breuer, New York (2019); Transfigurations, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi (2015); Palm Scapes, Nature Morte, New Delhi (2013).
Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2018); India Art Fair, New Delhi (2015); Unorthodox, The Jewish Museum, New York (2014); Gwangju Biennale (2014); Crossings: Time Unfolded (Part II), Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi (2012).
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2020
In 1972, a young Mrinalini Mukherjee began making sculpture with fiber in New Delhi, India. At the time, fiber and similar textiles were mostly unrecognized as materials possessing artistic merit by h
The revelatory genius of the late Indian sculptor Mrinalini Mukherjee (1949-2015) is laid bare in Phenomenal Nature, currently on at the Met Breuer, New York, where more than 50 sculptures made of f
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