Seven Sisters

Ambika Rajgopal of Saffronart posts about Rina Banerjee’s work at the Seven Sisters exhibition in Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco.

London: Rina Banerjee is one of the eight artists on view at the Seven Sisters exhibition at the Jenkins Johnson Gallery, in San Francisco. The other artists displaying their works are Carrie Mae Weems, Mickalene Thomas, Patricia Piccinini, Camille Rose Garcia, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Toyin Odutola, and Vanessa Prager.

Left: The Edge of Time - Ancient Rome from Roaming, 2006, Carrie Mae Weems; Right:  Din Facing Forward, 2012, Mickalene Thomas. Image Credit: http://www.jenkinsjohnsongallery.com/exhibitions/13seven.sisters/13seven_PR.html

Left: The Edge of Time – Ancient Rome from Roaming, 2006, Carrie Mae Weems; Right: Din Facing Forward, 2012, Mickalene Thomas. Image Credit: http://www.jenkinsjohnsongallery.com/exhibitions/13seven.sisters/13seven_PR.html

At the heart of this exhibition is the sororal significance of the constellation Pleiades, where each of the seven stars represents the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione. Each of the seven sisters have a mythological significance in Greek lore. These artists represent the sisterhood of femininity, which binds together the social fabric of our culturally heterogeneous society. Through works in diverse media like painting, drawing, sculpture and video, these artists represent the penetrative influence of the female identity. The works also interrogate personal identity and its correlation with themes like migration, race, gender, politics and heritage.

Upon first myth and empirical observation the hero her angel leaps in cry opens the moon to urge on a rain that may cleanse all from the sweat of her jealous man, 2013, Rina Banerjee. Image Credit: http://www.jenkinsjohnsongallery.com/exhibitions/13seven.sisters/13seven_PR.html

Upon first myth and empirical observation the hero her angel leaps in cry opens the moon to urge on a rain that may cleanse all from the sweat of her jealous man, 2013, Rina Banerjee. Image Credit: http://www.jenkinsjohnsongallery.com/exhibitions/13seven.sisters/13seven_PR.html

Indian born, New York-based artist, Rina Banerjee has had a long drawn history with investigating mythology, role of culture, fairy tales, anthropology and ethnography. On display in the exhibition are Banerjee’s works on paper and panel, where her visual language examines mythology and fairytales.  These concepts are fused with larger questions of migration, mobility of tourism and global commerce and how they influence personal identity.

My work deals with specific colonial moments that reinvent place and identity as complex diasporic experiences intertwined and sometimes surreal.

Detail of installation, "A world Lost" at Smithsonian‘s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 2013, Rina Banerjee. Image Credit: http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/current/rina-banerjee.asp

Detail of installation, “A world Lost” at Smithsonian‘s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 2013, Rina Banerjee. Image Credit: http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/current/rina-banerjee.asp

Banerjee was born in Calcutta, India and relocated to the UK with her family, before settling down in the USA. She pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in Polymer Engineering at Case Western University and then worked as a polymer research chemist. Banerjee decided to abandon scientific pursuit in lieu of a more symbolic and personal curiosity, which lead her to pursue a Masters of Fine Arts from Yale University. Banerjee has exhibited in a number of different art fairs and exhibitions, most recently appearing in Smithsonian‘s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, 7th Asia Pacific Triennale of Contemporary Art and the 55th Venice Biennale of 2013.

Take me, take me, take me to the Palace of Love, 2003, Rina Banerjee. Image Credit: http://www.artindiamag.com/quarter_03_03_13/now_voyager.html

Take me, take me, take me to the Palace of Love, 2003, Rina Banerjee. Image Credit: http://www.artindiamag.com/quarter_03_03_13/now_voyager.html

Despite her multicultural upbringing, there is inherent nostalgia for her cultural identity. Banerjee employs the use of heritage textiles, cultural motifs, colonial and historical objects, in order to rekindle a cultural association with the country of her origin. While using a visual language steeped in antiquarian heritage, Banerjee examines questions, which are relevant on a larger and more global level.

Banerjee uses an aesthetic that is hyper ornamental and relies on the narrative power of objects. These versatile objects, from touristy trinkets and thrift store bric-a-bracs, to bones, shells, feathers and textiles, form decorative aggregates that represent her transcultural perspective.

With or without name she was blue and who knew when she would slip into another mood for her understandable unwillingness to do, to speak to, to feel and determine her next move rests in her nest as would a Refugee 2009, Rina Banerjee. Image Credit: https://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/past/2012/apt7_asia_pacific_triennial_of_contemporary_art/artists/rina_banerjee

With or without name she was blue and who knew when she would slip into another mood for her understandable unwillingness to do, to speak to, to feel and determine her next move rests in her nest as would a Refugee 2009, Rina Banerjee. Image Credit: https://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/past/2012/apt7_asia_pacific_triennial_of_contemporary_art/artists/rina_banerjee

The show also features other artists who reframe the boundaries of personal identity. Similar to Banerjee, Camille Rose Garcia tackles the issue of fantasy. But the fantastical dreamscapes she paints are dystopian surrealist visions, replete with hollow eyed characters painted in a cartoon-like manner. She demonstrates the failures of capitalist utopias. Other artists like Carrie Mae Weems and Mickalene Thomas, through their art practice, answer questions relating to female black identity and beauty, through histories of racism, class and politics.

The exhibition is on view from October 3 through December 7, 2013. For additional information, please access the gallery website.

Perspectives by Rina Banerjee

Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart shares a note on Rina Banerjee’s installation at the Smithsonian ‘s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington

Rina Banerjee Working on the Installation,A world Lost: after the  original island, single land mass fractured, after populations migrated,  after pollution revealed itself and as cultural locations once separated  merged, after the splitting of Adam and Eve, Shiva and Shakti, of race  black and white, of culture East and West, after animals diminished,  after the seas’ corals did exterminate, after this and at last imagine all  water evaporated…this after Columbus found it we lost it imagine this Rina Banerjee (b. 1963)  2013 Photo by Hutomo Wicaksono

Rina Banerjee Working on the Installation,A world Lost: after the original island, single land mass fractured, after populations migrated, after pollution revealed itself and as cultural locations once separated merged, after the splitting of Adam and Eve, Shiva and Shakti, of race black and white, of culture East and West, after animals diminished, after the seas’ corals did exterminate, after this and at last imagine all water evaporated…this after Columbus found it we lost it imagine this Rina Banerjee (b. 1963) 2013 Photo by Hutomo Wicaksono

A World Lost: after the original island, single land massfractured, after populations migrated, after pollution revealed itself and as cultural locations once separated merged, after the splitting of Adam and Eve, Shiva and Shakti, of race black and white, of culture East and West, after animals diminished, after the seas’ corals did exterminate, after this and at last imagine all water evaporated…this after Columbus found it we lost it imagine this.

London: The above sentence is the title of Rina Banerjee’s installation which is currently exhibited at the Smithsonian ‘s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington as part of the contemporary art series’ “Perspectives”.

Banerjee’s work discusses themes of migration and transformation of the people and of the world we live in drawing on her personal experience as an immigrant.

The installation is made of different kinds of materials which represent different cultures. Plastic objects, souvenirs, and organic items are merged together creating an intricate textile which reminds us of appealing yet threatening fairytale worlds.

Below you can enjoy few images of the installation.

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The installation will be on until June 2014. For more information click here.

Indian artists in the 7th Asia Pacific Triennale of Contemporary Art

Manjari Sihare shares a note on the Indian artists participating in the 7th Asia Pacific Triennale of Contemporary Art in Brisbane

Brisbane: The 7th Asia Pacific Triennale of Contemporary Art (APT7) opened at the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane on December 8th, 2012. APT7 is world renowned for being the only major series to focus exclusively on contemporary art from Asia, the Pacific and Australia. It is the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art’s flagship contemporary art exhibition started in 1993. This edition marks its 20th year and is the most ambitious in scale featuring new and recent works by a total of seventy five artists and artist groups from a total of twenty seven countries. These include works of eminent Indian contemporary artists such as Rina Banerjee, Neha ChoksiSheila Makhijani, Raqib Shaw, Dayanita Singh and major new commissions by LN Tallur and Atul Dodiya. Also on view is a project by Raqs Media Collective in a section titled The 20 Year Archive in which the APT acknowledges its 20-year history by bringing together artists who work with archives. The exhibition is on view until April 14, 2013. Read more here, and watch this blog for additional posts on this exhibition in the near future.

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FIAC, Paris – An Art Fair Showcasing the Regulars

Guest blogger Kanika Anand shares her impressions of FIAC and its representation of Indian artists 

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Paris: Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain, popularly know by the acronym FIAC, is France’s primary fair of contemporary art, hosted at the Grand Palais in Paris in October every year.

Enthused by my first visit to the fair and the general buzz of art events around it in Paris, I made my way one rainy evening to discover for myself the depth of the hullabaloo. The fair offered the usual suspects of the contemporary art world, both in terms of galleries as well as artists, such as White Cube, David Zwirner, Lisson, Victoria Miro, Galerie Perrotin along with their blue chip artists Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Cindy Sherman, Anish Kapoor & Yayoi Kusama. Takashi Murakami bedazzled and Paul McCarthy mocked… and shocked! Incidentally, this edition of FIAC marked Gagosian Gallery’s debut at the fair. These art market biggies dominated, if not wholly comprised the selection at FIAC.

Indian representation was limited to artists who already have a market in Paris and could be better defined as international artists of Indian origin. Widely exhibited in Europe, Mithu Sen’s solo show ‘Devoid’ opens today at Galerie Nathalie Obadia in Paris. This will be the artist’s first solo in France, although her work has been exhibited at FIAC before. Hanging in the gallery’s booth at FIAC was Mithu’s You taste like Pao Bhaji alongside a sculptural work by the gallery’s long time represented artist, Rina Banerjee. Banerjee already has a marked presence in Paris; noteworthy of mention was her solo exhibition, Chimeras of India and the West at the prestigious Guimet Musee in 2011.

A series of 10 ‘Untitled’ drawings by N.S.Harsha hung on the outside wall of Greene Naftali Gallery (New York). Zarina Hashmi’s beautiful gold flaked ‘Tasbih’ hung in the corner of Jeanne-Bucher/Jaeger Bucher’s  (Paris) booth, in the deserving company of Joan Miro and Susumu Shingu. Tasbih is from Zarina’s most recent body of work shown at the gallery in a solo exhibition titled Noor last year.

A painted store shutter titled Mumtaz by Atul Dodiya and a painting by Jitish Kallat adorned two main walls of the large booth of Galerie Daniel Templon (Paris). The last day of FIAC coincided with the conclusion of Atul Dodiya’s first solo exhibition in Paris – Scribes from Timbuktu at their gallery space. The gallery has in the past supported Indian and other Asian artists, showcasing works by Sudarshan Shetty, Anju Dodiya, Hiroshi Sugimoto & Yue Minjun.

Two round shiny Anish Kapoor steel works in gold and purple, one each at the booths of Lisson (London/ Milan/ New York) and Gladstone Gallery (New York/ Brussels) shimmered akin to the gloss of the fair itself. But for me, the fair lacked spunk – no experimental works, no new names, no interesting project booths and notably no Indian galleries! It was all that I ‘expected’, but then again I’m no collector.

FIAC, Paris runs several parallel events and programs around the fair. More information is available at http://www.fiac.com/.

Kanika Anand is an art professional and budding curator specializing in Indian contemporary art. She holds a degree in Art History from the National Museum Institute, New Delhi, and has worked in the field for five years with Gagosian Gallery, Gallery Espace and Talwar Gallery in New York and New Delhi. She is currently pursuing the Curatorial Training Program at the Ecole du Magasin in Grenoble, France, in line with her interest to responsibly curate projects towards making art more accessible as well as inter-disciplinary.

India: Art Now at the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen

ARKEN Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Lars Skaaning

Manjari Sihare in conversation with the Director of the ARKEN Museum, Christian Gether

Copenhagen: On August 18, 2012, a large conglomeration of visual and performing artists, filmmakers, fashion designers, authors, business professionals and scientists from India descended upon the city of Copenhagen for a much awaited project hosted by a mix of premier Danish institutions including the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, the CPH Pix Festival, the Royal Danish Theatre, the University of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen Business School. Titled India Today-Copenhagen Tomorrow, this massive Indian-Danish culture project is aimed to acquaint Danes with modern India and its vibrant culture and dynamic economy. The project was inaugurated with a large exhibition of contemporary Indian art and fashion at the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art. Located 15 minutes south of Copenhagen, the museum is known for its modern and contemporary art exhibitions, one of the most important public collections of iconic British artist, Damien Hirst, and its building structure in the shape of a ship in marine surroundings. The art exhibition titled India: Art Now is the museum’s biggest exhibition ever. Participating artists include Rina Banerjee, Hemali Bhuta, Atul Dodiya, Sheela Gowda, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Jitish Kallat, Reena Saini Kallat, Rashmi Kaleka, Bharti Kher, Ravinder Reddy, Vivan Sundaram and the artist duo Thukral & Tagra. I am delighted to have had the opportunity to speak with Christian Gether, the Director of the ARKEN Museum, about this exhibition and the museum’s programming and collection.

Vivan Sundaram, Aztec Deity, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

Q. Could you please tell us a little about the project India Today-Copenhagen Tomorrow? Please also throw some light on the choice of title?

A: We are deeply fascinated by India. It is a nation with a tremendous tradition and a very dynamic relation to the rest of the world. From this a very energetic and interesting art scene has arisen. We are convinced that the Indian way of thinking today will play an important role in the way that Copenhagen will develop tomorrow. Hence the title.

Q. How did the idea for this project come about? Why India?

A: For a long time we have been interested in showing contemporary art from India, as India is the next focus point for international art collectors. We were then approached by The Holck Larsen Foundation which is established by one of the founders of the construction company L&T (Larsen and Toubro India) which said: If you will produce an exhibition on contemporary art from India, then we will pay the costs. So our wish of showing contemporary art from India suddenly came true.

Rina Banerjee, Preternatural passage came from wet whiteness and mercantile madness, paid for circular migrations, she went thirty six directions that is all the more different, where empire threw her new born and heritage claimed as well, this lady bug was not scarlet her wound was rather shaped like garlic seemed colored, a bit more sulfuric, could eat what was fungus her cloth punctuated by tender greenness she seemed to be again pregnant, 2011. Courtesy of Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris-Bruxelles

Q. I understand that the selection of the 13 artists in the show is made with the intention of revealing dimensions that extend beyond ideas of an ‘exotic’ India. For decades Indian art has been plagued with the term ‘exotic’.  How did this conceptual framework come about?

A: In the art circles of today, a hot topic is ‘migratory aesthetics’. That is the new visual expression that arises from the dialogue between a local culture and the global impact. What we have tried to do is to show the art that is a synthesis of the Indian and the global culture. Indians are very open-minded and they travel and settle all over the world – and they have English as their common language so there is no barrier between the Indians and the rest of the world. Therefore they take in the best of the global culture and combine it with their experience of existence in India. A new visual language is established which fascinates the rest of the world. That is what we found unfolded in the 13 selected artists in the show.

Q. Some of the works are especially commissioned for the show? Could you elaborate on these works? 

Rashmi Kaleka, Chhota Paisa (Small Change), 2012
Surround sound installation with video component
Courtesy of the artist and the Swiss Arts Counsil Pro Helvetica in 2011-12

Jitish Kallat, The Cry of the Gland, 2009. Courtesy of Haunch of Venison, London

A: One of them is an audio installation by Rashmi Kaleka titled Chotta Paisa.When we saw Rashmi Kaleka’s work at her house in Delhi we were immediately deeply fascinated. With a modern recording device, the video camera, she had registered the early morning on the roofs of Delhi and combined it with the sounds of the street vendors and other sounds from a metropolis that is wakening. It is an intense revelation of a common daily ritual that we can all relate to.

The other is Jitish Kallat’s work where he has produced at series of photos of shirt pockets filled with notebooks pencils and rulers, which signalizes identity and importance of the owner. It is a very accurate observation on symbols of power structures in a society.

Q. What are some of the highlights of the exhibition?

A: I am very keen on Subodh Gupta’s installation with the brass pinnacles, which are bound together with thin, but strong strings. It shows the dialogue and interdependence of different religions. Ravinder Reddy’s women heads are also fascinating because they refer to a classical Indian tradition and to modern pop art simultaneously.  It is Indian in the modern world.

Subodh Gupta, Terminal, 2010. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Anders Sune Berg

Ravinder Reddy, Untitled, 2007-08, Courtesy: Private Collection, India

Q. The project has an important online and social media component to facilitate exchange in the form of Co-Create Now an online platform facilitating conversations, inspiration and exchange of experiences between Indians and Danes. Please elaborate.

A: Here at ARKEN we are extremely focused on the dialogue with our visitors. We reach out to everybody on different media platforms and like to involve the visitor as much as possible. We would like to have the visitor to employ his or her own experience of existence in a mental dialogue with the experience of existence which you find in the art work. Thereby the visitor becomes wiser on himself and on life as such.

Q. How has the response to the exhibition been?

A: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. The critics love the exhibition and so do the visitors.

Q. The Arken Museum has an active acquisition policy for international contemporary art mostly from the 1990 onwards. Are there any works of Indian artists in the collection? Could you tell us about the museum’s future acquisition plans for Indian art, if any?

A: We do not have any works of Indian origin in the permanent collection, but hopefully we soon will. I cannot reveal any names, but of course we are very fascinated by the artists that we have selected for the exhibition. We hope to find a private benefactor who will help us to buy art from India.

Q. What are some of the highlights in the museum’s collection?

A: We have one of the world’s biggest public collections of works by Damien Hirst. It was established with the help of a private donor and the great support by Damien Hirst himself and the owner of White Cube in London, Jay Joplin.

We have a fantastic video by Bill Viola called ‘Silence , Gold and Silver’ which we bought many years ago when we could still afford it. The same applies to our big installation by Mona Hatoum which we also bought more than 10 years ago.

Recently we acquired nine huge works by Anselm Reyle, also with the help of a private donor. Otherwise it would be completely impossible as most art museums have very tight budgets nowadays. To make these big and important purchases we need private donors who will help us get the best art pieces. That also applies to our wish for including art from India.

Damien Hirst, Love’s Paradox (Surrender or Autonomy, Separateness as a Pre-condition for Connection), 2007. Photographed by Prudence Cumming Associates © Damien Hirst & Science Ltd. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2011.

Mona Hatoum, Misbah, Photo Anders Sune Berg

Anselm Reyle, Wagon Wheel, 2009
Photo: Per Morten Abrahamsen

Q. Which exhibitions over the past few years has been a particular source of pleasure for you?

A: I think that INDIA TODAY for a very long time will have a special place in my heart. It has been a fantastic experience to get to know a little corner of the contemporary art scene in India – and it has been a great experience to meet the dynamic culture in India and also the kindness and generosity of the Indian people.  Earlier on we have made big exhibitions on artists such as Edvard Munch, Chagall, Dali, German Expressionism and contemporary art from Berlin etc. Recently we had a colossal exhibition by the Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. All good art is fascinating and unforgettable.

Q. Which exhibitions in the next few years would you recommend? Is there anything else related to Indian art on the cards?

A: If we have the possibility i.e. money, we would like to expand our relation to art from India by including Indian art works. In the coming years I can mention a show by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera. We will also show Picasso, and in 2015 we will show Monet. In addition to that we will show a series of contemporary artists from all over the world. In that series it is very likely that we include artists from India.

India: Art Now is on view until January 13, 2013. Read more. 

Thukral & Tagra, THE ESCAPE! Resume/Reset, 2012. Courtesy Thukral & Tagra Studio and Gallery Nature Morte

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