Mrinalini Mukherjee

31 Oct – 30 Nov 2013

Jhaveri Contemporary is pleased to present an exhibition of bronze sculptures by esteemed artist Mrinalini Mukherjee. This is Mukherjee’s first exhibition in Mumbai in over a decade, and also the first-ever showing of her sculptures in bronze in the city. ‘Bronze’ features works made between 2007 and 2012 and complements an exhibition of new work, ‘Palm-Scapes’, at Nature Morte in New Delhi, on view between 29 October and 23 November 2013.

The sculptural practice of Mrinalini Mukherjee has always been foremost about her materials, and the investigation and exploitation of those materials. From her earliest works using dyed and woven fiber, to hand-modelled ceramics, and then to cast bronzes, in each case the works are true to themselves, only of the singular material, completely dedicated to a fixated expression. The forms Mukherjee creates in these various materials do have a consistency of approach, a recognizable personality, hovering between vegetal and figurative silhouettes, appearing surprisingly fluid in spite of their inert realities. 

Bronze has been the artist’s medium of choice for the past ten years, and as her exploration has continued, her forms have become both larger and more complex. The works on view in Mumbai, “Figures of gestation, emblems of growth and germination… (are) formed around a center or a void hidden from the eye by a dizzying play of spirals and whorls” writes Henry-Claude Cousseau. “They disclose the presence of an object at their center that resembles a pot at times, a wineskin at others – rounded like a colocynth with its scapes, its leaves and its stems. It is as if Mukherjee were revealing the different stages in the growth of a plant – from its birth under the foliage to the emergence of tubers and finally the majestic blossoming into the light of day. The object that opens and blossoms before our eyes literally emerges from its womb, and in so doing, shows all the signs of its effort to come to light: the jagged, scalloped, serrated, random, indecisive, hesitant motifs, like so many caprices that might pass for natural laws. The body merges with the foliage and is thereby concealed from the eyes of mortals, like the gods or the woodland spirits in certain ancient cultures.”

The newest group of bronzes on view in New Delhi will seem familiar to those who saw her previous bodies of work, yet they attain a level of marvel that edges slightly towards the monstrous. Cantilevered, contorted, leaping, and preening, these sculptures seem only slightly perturbed by gravity. They may be fossilized trophies dug from a prehistoric swamp or the robotic armour of an alien orchid creature. They are most certainly the masterpieces of an accomplished sculptor at the very height of her expertise.

Mrinalini Mukherjee (b.1949, Mumbai) is perhaps India’s pre-eminent sculptor working today, with a career now entering its fifth decade. Recent group exhibitions include: ‘The Body in Indian Art’ curated by Naman Ahuja at BOZAR, Brussels (2013); ‘Crossings: Time Unfolded (Part II)’ curated by Roobina Karode at Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi (2012); ‘India Moderna’ curated by Juan Guardiola at Institut Valencia D’Art Modern, Valencia (2010). Public collections include: Tate Modern, London; Museum of Modern Art, Oxford; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi; Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi and Roopankar Museum of Art, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal, among others. The artist lives and works in New Delhi.