Ng Elaine W.& Martin Courtney J. (eds.), Rina Banerjee: forever foreign, cat. expo., Haunch of Venison, London (9 April – 15 May 2010), London, Haunch of Venison, 2010→
Giès Jacques & Arhuero Caroline (ed.), Rina Banerjee, exh. cat., Musée Guimet, Paris (25 May – 26 September 2011), Paris, Musée Guimet/Editions Dilecta, 2011→
Martin Courtney J. & Vincent Cédric (eds.), Rina Banerjee, Paris, Dilecta/Galerie Nathalie Obadia, 2015
Rina Banerjee, Musée Guimet, Paris, 25 May – 26 September 2011→
What am I made of and how do you know my name ?, Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo, 22 November 2013 – 31 January 2014→
Make Me a Summary of the World, Pennsylvana Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 27 October 2018 – 31 March 2019
Indian visual artist.
Rina Banerjee emigrated with her family at a very young age, first to London, then to the United States, where she received a degree in painting and engraving from Yale in 1995. Influenced by this oscillation between two cultures, her complex body of work has always based itself in the subject of migration through a reflection on memory, experience, the mobility of communities, and local and global issues. On the whole, her work questions the notion of identity, as well as those of femininity and sisterhood. As a member of the diaspora, R. Banerjee evokes its fragile nature in a society that strives for multiculturalism. More broadly, she addresses the question of how we relate to others – in the context of the progression of AIDS, for instance – or to foreigners, whom she often depicts as insects.
Her work also problematizes the notions of ethnicity or supposed exoticism, as can be seen in her reflections on the symbolism of clothes in the late 1990s. It is always highly conceptual, whether this concerns her installations, like her series about the Taj Mahal, Take Me, Take Me, Take Me… to the Palace of Love (2003), or her – occasionally “handmade” – works on paper, like Seasoned by hurricanes, sweet water and salty air this unearthly place made into home for “she” who bit twice the fruit of its displeasure (2007), in which she mixes ink, acrylic paint, watercolours, and sometimes glass beads. The titles, with their mistakes and lengthy syntaxes, enable her to play on language and sounds, just as she plays with postures, warm and cold colours, organic and industrial materials, transparency and space, by multiplying floral and plant patterns to fill in the gaps.
Juxtapositions, connections, and tensions arise between earth and sky, without any of one element taking precedence over the others. R. Banerjee uses enigmatic or universal figures, like snakes or spiders, to open up a vast field of possibilities and to free objects from determinism; by inspiring fascination or repulsion, they become, as if by magic, what they were not initially thought to be, as they populate the artist’s both dark and alluring works.