Rina Banerjee at Jacob Lewis

New York

Rina Banerjee, Friendly Fire..., 2015, mixed media, 46" x 48" x 35".  ©RINA BANERJEE/COURTESY JACOB LEWIS GALLERY, NEW YORK

Rina Banerjee, Friendly Fire…, 2015, mixed media, 46" x 48" x 35".


For this show, “Tropical Urban,” the Indian-born, New York–based artist Rina Banerjee presented a group of sculptures, paintings, and drawings on the theme of self-invention. Populating all the works were mutant creatures—part human, part animal, part deity—who projected a cosmopolitan air.

An underwater scene in oil on panel featured a trio of blue-skinned nymphs with seaweed hair, tentacle-like fingers and toes—and in one case, an extra limb sporting a fashionable platform shoe. One figure stretches a foot toward the rocky ocean floor; another drifts upward in pursuit of a school of sparkling jellyfish. Works on paper, incorporating delicate line drawing, rubber stamping, painting, and collage, depicted more hybrid beings, including a party-frocked Devi flirting with a muscled green demon and a giant dodo bird with the head of a woman squatting forlornly on a tropical island.

Banerjee’s eye-popping sculptures, made from new, cheap, brightly colored materials, included the self-descriptive A Mad Woman, an Eternal Eve, a Monkey cheated leaped, from limb to limp in open air, curled a mischievous and bulbous melancholy in tail that sailed and with a single cough, a sudden drip, a curtain of bubbles, tears spilled to send land liquids, fertilizer, all fluid migrations leaking abroad and across (2012). In other words, belonging nowhere can also mean belonging everywhere.

A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 81.

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