This summer, sculptor Mrinalini Mukherjee will be the subject of a revelatory retrospective at The Met Breuer. Phenomenal Nature: Mrinalini Mukherjee will mark the first comprehensive display of the artist’s work in the United States. The exhibition will bring together fifty-seven pieces by Mukherjee and will explore the artist’s longstanding engagement with fibre, along with her significant forays into ceramic and bronze from the middle and latter half of her career.
Born in Mumbai in 1949 to artist parents, Mukherjee studied painting, printmaking, and mural making at the M.S. University in Baroda, India, with the influential artist K.G. Subramanyan, who had studied under her father. Subramanyan firmly rejected the Western modernist hierarchy between art and craft and encouraged his students, including Mukherjee, to engage with this legacy. It was under his guidance that Mukherjee first experimented with fibre.
The artist’s fibre forms are physical and organic. She never worked with a loom; instead, knotting became her primary technique and it imbued her sculptures with three-dimensional volume and a sense of monumentality. She used natural as well as hand-dyed ropes sourced from a local market in New Delhi, where she lived and worked. The forms she fashioned are replete with sexual imagery, while some of her large anthropomorphic pieces—in which the vegetal, human, and animal coalesce—at times suggest the imagery of classical Indian sculpture.
Phenomenal Nature will also present the latter half of Mukherjee’s career in the mid-1990s, when, prompted by a residency at the European Ceramics Work Centre in the Netherlands, she began working with ceramics, eventually taking on bronze in 2003. Probing the divide between figuration and abstraction, Mukherjee would go on to fashion unusual, mysterious, sensual, and, at times, unsettlingly grotesque forms, commanding in their presence and scale.
4 June - 29 September 2019, The Met Breuer, Floor 3, 945 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021 USA