Rina Banerjee – Total Inspiration

by Katie on April 11, 2010

Rina Banerjee’s acute and incisive yet charming and engaging blend of East and West (“Foreign Foreign”) blew me away at her first show at Haunch of Venison.

An intensity of colour and mythical imaginations, Banerjee blends the Victorianism of Phileas Fogg with fairy tale Hindu tales (real or imagined) and creates a multi-dimensional approach to her art. 

This is work to inspire the fashion pack such as Dries van Noten, Etro, JPG and Galliano. We only have to look at Jean Paul Gaultier’s A/W ’10 collection to see his global melting pot influences.

Using discarded Western items such as light bulbs, apothecary phials, old vintage Sari fabrics, shells, animal skulls and bones and sand (to name a few), like a brilliant slum dog artisan, Banerjee works these into magical forms, once again resplendent and covetable. There’s a hint of ‘objects trouves’ to the elements, intent on capturing emotion with imagination and possibilities. Banerjee’s thirst for exploration and knowledge, lust for the travel and curiosity in the ‘other’ is clear. Her vivid shades help define the brilliance.

Her sculptures jut out or hang, seemingly weightless, a mish-mash of refound objects deliberately created to assault our senses. But boy does it feel good. Architecture is a focus and the work, “Take me, take me, take…to the Palace of Love” is a large scale pink plastic cellophane work of a diaphanous Schiaperelli pink Taj Mahal with vintage Indian chair and dripping fake fruit. So sensual it seems to bleed, both exotic and erotic.

“I’ll get you my pretty, ” features bottles, fans, cowrie shells, dancing bells, glass vials, fuchsia feathers, pewter toy soldiers and plastic animals on a sand shaped map of the world while a vintage Sari made into a giant, bulbous, Phileas Fogg type balloon flies over them. It’s delightful. Like a mixed up map of the world, the general gist is that the world is flat and we are all influenced by our nascent culture.

The lighting is beautiful, throughout, and a credit to such an esteemed gallery. The warmth and light captures the feel of the works as well as highlighting their individuality. My only criticism is that the huge scale works are so beautifully overpowering, that her incredible paintings seem to drift into insignificance and these are worthy of an exhibition in their own right.

Like Terry Gilliam in female form and with Indian influence, Banerjee makes the bizarre look beautiful. And more. You want to touch it, feel it, know the whys and wherefores of how it came into being. This is artwork that intrigues. I’d be amazed if it doesn’t influence.

Jean Paul Gaultier A/W 10 pic courtesy of Style.com.

Rina Banerjee “Take me, take me, take me….. to the Palace of Love” 2003
15′ x 15′ footprint hangs suspended about 6 inches off the floor. From the floor to its final top height is can vary from 14-16 feet. (HV26596) Copyright Rina Banerjee
Courtesy Haunch of Venison.
Rina Banerjee “I’ll get you my pretty!” 2009. Bottles, fans, cowrie shells, dancing bells, glass vials, Texas long horn steer skulls, porcelain, saris, pewter toy soldiers, plastic animals and soldiers, moss, stone, globe, Chinese tea-straining spoons, feathers, crochet lace, glass light bulbs, mica powder, white sand, Hindu ceremony thread. 14 feet high x 20 feet diameter (floor installation). (HV26518)
Copyright Rina Banerjee. Courtesy Haunch of Venison.

Rina Banerjee She’s my country…her breath exploded of putrid death and folly. Her tresses snagged the most prickly greed lured cultures to wet their beds severed family and prayed on hope….she is at war 2009. Texas long horn steer skull, cowrie shells, steel planters, Hindu ceremony thread, antique mannequin, globes, wire, kitchen towel rack, glass beads, brass bells, Chinese umbrella, Japanese mosquito net, bone beads, copper trim, African necklaces, Chinese lantern, 22 carat gold powder. 96″H x 50″D x 102″W, 243.8 H x 127 D x 259 W cm (HV31317). Copyright Rina Banerjee. Courtesy Haunch of Venison.

“Forever Foreign” is at Haunch of Venison, 6 Burlington Gardens, London W1 until 15th May 2010.

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