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(1949 – 2015), India

Mrinalini Mukherjee Biography

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.

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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.

Mrinalini Mukherjee Solo exhibitions

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).

Mrinalini Mukherjee Group exhibitions

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

Mrinalini Mukherjee Featured Artworks

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Rain by Mrinalini Mukherjee contemporary artwork print
Mrinalini MukherjeeRain, 1983Etching
24.3 x 16.2 cm
Jhaveri Contemporary Contact Gallery
Garhi by Mrinalini Mukherjee contemporary artwork print
Mrinalini MukherjeeGarhi, 1983Etching
24.5 x 33 cm
Jhaveri Contemporary Contact Gallery
View by Mrinalini Mukherjee contemporary artwork print
Mrinalini MukherjeeView, 1983Etching
24 x 33 cm
Jhaveri Contemporary Contact Gallery
River by Mrinalini Mukherjee contemporary artwork print
Mrinalini MukherjeeRiver, 1983Etching
24.2 x 30 cm
Jhaveri Contemporary Contact Gallery
Storm by Mrinalini Mukherjee contemporary artwork print
Mrinalini MukherjeeStorm, 1984Etching
24.3 x 24.8 cm
Jhaveri Contemporary Contact Gallery
Crow by Mrinalini Mukherjee contemporary artwork print
Mrinalini MukherjeeCrow, 1979Etching
24.3 x 23.7 cm
Jhaveri Contemporary Contact Gallery
Bagh by Mrinalini Mukherjee contemporary artwork print
Mrinalini MukherjeeBagh, 1984Etching
24.3 x 24.6 cm
Jhaveri Contemporary Contact Gallery
Afternoon by Mrinalini Mukherjee contemporary artwork print
Mrinalini MukherjeeAfternoon, 1979Etching
24.5 x 24.2 cm
Jhaveri Contemporary Contact Gallery

Mrinalini Mukherjee Recent Exhibitions

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Mrinalini Mukherjee In Ocula Magazine

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Mrinalini Mukherjee In Related Press

Exploring Sexuality and Myth Through Fiber and Other Types of Sculpture Related Press Exploring Sexuality and Myth Through Fiber and Other Types of Sculpture 3 September 2019, Hyperallergic

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

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An Indian Master of Fiber, Clay, and Bronze Related Press An Indian Master of Fiber, Clay, and Bronze 20 July 2019, Hyperallergic

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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Unmissable highlights at Frieze London and Frieze Masters 2016 Related Press Unmissable highlights at Frieze London and Frieze Masters 2016 8 October 2016, The Telegraph

It may be devoted to the very latest in contemporary art, but there’s also more than a whiff of nostalgia at this year’s Frieze London which breaks new ground by devoting an entire section to the Nineties – a time which still seems really quite recent to some of us. Channelling the  collegiate spirit of an era when artists...

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Mrinalini Mukherjee (1949–2015) Related Press Mrinalini Mukherjee (1949–2015) 4 August 2015, artforum

Who could have imagined that the long-awaited consecration of Mrinalini Mukherjee’s achievement as a sculptor would coincide with a closure of the most final kind - that the perspective opened up by the major exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi of her work in natural fiber, ceramic, and bronze, elaborated over the last...

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