13 rooms in Materials and Objects
Indian artist Mrinalini Mukherjee transformed an everyday material, natural rope, into extraordinary sculptural forms
Mrinalini Mukherjee’s parents were well-known artists and teachers. Growing up with the intellectual and artistic community of Santiniketan in Bengal, she was schooled in debates about local knowledge and modern art. She studied painting in Baroda (Vadodara) with the artist K.G. Subramanyan, who championed Indian craft traditions.
When Mukherjee turned to sculpture, she rejected conventional materials and techniques associated with studio practice. She began to work with hemp rope. Weaving and knotting, she created complex shapes and folds that often resemble flowers or the body. Her early works such as the wall-mounted Ritu Raja 1977 were made from rope woven from hemp in two shades, the natural colours of the material accentuating the sensual forms. The title in Bengali refers to a ‘king of seasons’, usually the fertile spring. The title of Jauba 2000 refers to the hibiscus flower. In this later work, hemp dyed in brilliant colours is manipulated into flower-like forms around freestanding metal armatures, almost human in scale.
‘I work emotionally and intuitively and do not like analysing my feelings during the work process’, Mukherjee said. There are rich references in her work and titles to mythology and folklore, while her exploration of sexuality and the body suggests a strong feminine perspective. She was one of a number of women artists whose work established that textiles and fibres, which were traditionally associated with crafts, could be just as important as the materials conventionally associated with fine art.
Curated by Nada Raza and Ann Coxon
Mrinalini Mukherjee, Jauba 2000
Jauba (Hibiscus) 2000 is a freestanding sculpture that was created by knotting yarn made from dyed hemp fibre over a vertical metal armature, with the bulk of its woven detail on the front. The yarn has been dyed red, green and black and is woven into pleated organic forms which drape the frame like a robe. ‘Jauba’ means hibiscus in the artist’s native language Bengali. Visually, the sculpture resembles a botanical, floral form, roughly symmetrical, which droops slightly towards the floor due to the weight of the material.
artworks in Mrinalini Mukherjee