I wanted to talk about an artist whose exhibition I visited in August 2011 at Musée Guimet, my favourite museum in Paris. Contemporary artist Rina Banerjee’s works had been scattered in the permanent exhibition among thousand-year-old Buddhas, Hindu sculptures and Chinese Emperors’ furniture. That kind of exhibition is currently fashionable. The French still remember the day when Jeff Koons‘s and Murakami‘s garish creatures invaded Versailles Palace a few years ago!
Rina Banerjee was born in Kolkata in 1963 and she lived in Great-Britain and in the USA. Now, she is in New-York but she has always stayed in touch with her country of origin. This Western-Asian mixture can be found in his works, that is why the Musée Guimet exhibition was called: Chimères de l’Inde et de l’Occident.
Rina Banerjee is a recycler artist. She uses the past and the present, human waste and animal waste and she creates life out of death and chimeras out of reality. Consequently, by getting closer to the shapeful and puzzling beasts, you discover round shells caressing round electric bulbs and soda bottles adorned with feathers and flower petals. Reptile skeletons are decorated with pearls and crunch mysterious plastic balls. Painted fantasy beings float over old Indian towns’ maps. In Guimet’s rotunda library a bizarre elephant trunk made of pink wire netting and tulle, grows from the heart of a little colonial armchair. In the photo below, a big white egg is about to hatch in the centre of a half flower half satellite dish corolla.
As you can imagine, these figures are difficult to give names. That is probably the reason why the artist has not given titles to some of them. Instead, she wrote little poems in prose in which she tells her creatures’ stories, their moods, and give them even more movement and soul through words.
Upon civilizing home an absurd and foreign fruit grew ripened, made food for the others, grew snout, tail and appendage like no other 2010 (Related to the “elephant armchair” below)