As always, thick vegetation forms the premise of Mrinalini Mukherjee's works. This time her forms are more erotic and exuberant.
Mrinalini Mukherjee makes it sound so simple and even mechanical when she says, “I don't wait for any inspiration to come. I go to work at 9:30 and finish at 5:30.” But just one look at her latest series of bronze sculptures collectively called ‘Lava' and you know, the process of creating them and the lost-wax method at that, couldn't have been so uncomplicated.
A rush of herbage and foliage twist, turn, converge, get entangled and move away, giving birth to various shapes, some of which have come up by default and some created consciously.
The spurt of activity beckons the viewer to watch the happenings up close and discover the phallic forms, snake-like figures which are concealed in some and revealed in others. The celebrated folds and orifices also remain. Free for interpretation, the veteran sculptor says, some may spot a bird in there.
To the highly engaging work, the carefully worked upon texture renders it a tactile quality, to invite the viewer to touch and feel.
Of course, fecundity comes naturally to Mrinalini, who was born to Binode Bihari Mukherjee — the legendary artist and student of Nandlal Bose, who heralded the period of modern art in India — and that explains how it all takes place so effortlessly.
Organic and growing
Not the one to harp on her art, all she says explaining the current body of work is, “It's not so much about a volcano erupting but it's about what happens after that. You know, the title of the show ‘Lava' is an abstract title. It's only suggestive.” Even the job of naming the individual works is undertaken as a customary duty much after the works have finished.
She began as a figurative painter but a visit to Gujarat's annual fair inspired her to take up sculptures and even when she was working with the coloured hemp fibre and sisal, a material Mrinalini is enormously known for, the organic life of plants has been a dominant theme in her art. Only now, they are more exuberant and a little less anthromorphic, a feature so pronounced in her hemp pieces (hand-dyed hemp fibres were twisted and knotted around metal armatures), as Mrinalini points out.
To an ordinary viewer, in comparison with her last show held at Vadehra Art Gallery held three years ago, the works may appear to be less muted and more sensual.
The works are more voluptuous. “That's not something I have deliberately tried to achieve. If that has crept into my work on its own, I can't say. But I like my work to be growing,” says the artist, who is a powerful name in the international market.
(The show ‘Lava' is on till May 15 at Gallery Espace, 16, CommunityCentre)