A detail of an undated work by Benode Behari Mukherjee, titled Reclining Man.

Benode Behari Mukherjee: After Sight

24 Grafton Street, London
January 10—February 22, 2020

David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of work by Indian artist Benode Behari Mukherjee (1904–1980) at the gallery’s London location. The first solo presentation in Europe devoted to Mukherjee, the exhibition will focus on the artist’s collages from the late 1950s and 1960s, after he lost his sight.

A pioneering Indian modernist, Mukherjee blended imagery and iconography from Indian life with a signature visual style influenced by Indian, East Asian, and Western art practices and traditions. Mukherjee studied with the celebrated artist Nandalal Bose as one of the first students at the renowned Kala Bhavana, the fine-arts institute founded by the poet Rabindranath Tagore at Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, West Bengal. The curriculum of Kala Bhavana was structured similarly to that of the German Bauhaus (Tagore travelled to Europe often, and he visited the Weimar Bauhaus in 1921), with students encouraged to explore form and style in an open manner with various mentors. Rather than depicting mythological or nationalistic imagery, common themes and subjects among Indian artists at this time, Mukherjee examined nature and his immediate surroundings. He created works in a variety of media, from graphite drawings to wall frescoes, all of which exhibit a deeply modernist yet highly individualistic and contextually specific sensibility towards form, color, and composition. As art historian Juliet Reynolds writes: ‘[Mukherjee’s] attempt… was to reconcile Indian folk and classical art with far-eastern calligraphic painting, European early-Renaissance conventions and modern idioms.’1

The exhibition has been organised in collaboration with Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, who represents the estate of the artist. Several of the works on view will be on loan from the collection of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi.

Image: Benode Behari Mukherjee, Reclining Man, 1957 (detail). © Mrinalini Mukherjee Foundation. Photo by Nemai Ghosh

1Juliet Reynolds, ‘On a Wider Canvas’, India International Centre Quarterly (Winter 2006–Spring 2007), p. 60.

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