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Artist of The Day | Mrinalini Mukherjee

Mrinalini Mukherjee

Vriksh Nata


Left - 66 1/8 x 35 3/8 x 26 3/4 in

Center - 87 3/8 x 53 1/8 x 19 5/8 in

Right - 93 1/4 x 46 x 27 1/8 in



Mrinalini Mukherjee

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 fiber.

A committed sculptor who worked intuitively, never resorting to a sketch or preparatory drawing, Mukherjee in her forms explored the divide between figuration and abstraction. Nature was her primary inspiration, and this was further informed by her enthusiasm for Indian historic sculpture, modern design, and local crafts and textile traditions. The exhibition will seek to highlight the radical intervention Mukherjee made by adapting crafting techniques with a modernist formalism.

The artist’s fiber 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.

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