Frieze Masters 2016

05 Oct – 09 Oct 2016

Mrinalini Mukherjee (1949 – 2015) sculptures in fibre, ceramic, and bronze consistently challenge the way art, craft and modernism are discussed. For years she struggled to be accepted as a sculptor, let alone an artist. In sharp contrast to her male colleagues who made pedestal sculpture in stone, wood or bronze, her work was either hung or floor based and was made using hand dyed and knotted hemp fibre. The mainstream of the Modern artists in India rejected traditional artisanal skills and vernacular idioms and she fell victim to that view.

As a student in Baroda in 1960s, Mukherjee studied mural design but her professor K.G. Subramanyan, a well-known proponent of the view that art needs to have an integral connection to craft, encouraged her to explore alternative materials. She fashioned simple plant forms before attempting scale in a series of anthropomorphic deities. Sometimes using a simple armature, she worked intuitively and without much planning. Much of her work refers to the natural world and has an underlying erotic quality.

Mukherjee’s fibre works are extremely rare, some are already in museums and many have not survived. Jhaveri Contemporary’s presentation with include three works in fibre, made in the 70s and 80s, along with a later work in ceramic made in 1997.