Rina Banerjee: Blemish


Hosfelt Gallery presents a solo show of new mixed media paintings on paper by Kolkata-born, New York-based Rina Banerjee, as an ancillary exhibition to her touring mid-career survey, currently on view at the San Jose Museum of Art.


Banerjee’s sensuous and otherworldly paintings reflect both her transnational background and her mastery of materials and image-making to examine and describe the complexities of 21st century globalism.


Delicately rendered in inks, metallic leaf and collaged elements, female figures float in worlds both fluid and ambiguous. They’re dislocated, detached and in states of transformation — sometimes shifting between human and bird or beast. She spins narratives relating to colonialism, environmentalism, immigration and identity, poetically tackling the big issues from the perspective of a woman of color.


Freedom is the most expensive commodity; nature the most dangerous beauty. My work examines both. My art depicts a delicate world that is also aggressive, tangled, manipulated, fragile, and very, very dense.

– Rina Banerjee


Rina Banerjee (b. 1963, Kolkata, India) received a BS in Polymer Engineering and worked as a research chemist before completing her MFA at Yale in 1995.  Her ambitious mid-career survey exhibition, Make Me a Summary of the World — which presents twenty years of Banerjee’s large-scale installations, sculptures and paintings — is on view at the San Jose Museum of Art through October 6.   It opened at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2018 and will travel to the Fowler Museum at UCLA (December 8, 2019 – May 31, 2020), Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN (July 24 – October 25, 2020) and Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC (February 18 – July 11, 2021).

Other recent solo museum exhibitions include the Smithsonian Museum’s Sackler Galleries (Washington, DC) and the Musée Guimet (Paris).  Her work gained international attention at the 2000 Whitney Biennial, and has since been included in the 2005 and 2015 Greater New York Shows at PS1/MOMA, the 2013 and 2017 Venice Biennales, the 2015 Asian Art Biennial at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (Taichung), the 2016 Busan Biennial (South Korea), the 2017 Prospect 4 in New Orleans, and the 2018 Kochi-Muziris Biennale (Kochi, India).  Her work is in numerous international public and prestigious private collections.






The blemish is subject to rejection. It is located as an unnatural, unsightly mark on the more expansive surface which has been injured. A wound or dent out of an accidental hit, a scar, a discoloration. This unwanted formation that makes one imperfect and feel stained by its emergence is a crisis. The established view is that normative responses to a blemish can range from disgust to agitation. This blemish is always a detail, one that can perform volumes as it reidentifies, reclaims and transforms the normal whole. This blemish commands, has reach, and opens the voice to difference.


Cultural division in the American landscape continues to grow, morph; devolving and evolving, disguised at times, to create a preoccupation with insecurities, over-vigilance—that strategy that smokes out difference when the enemy resembles you and you can no longer trust your tools of recognition. The urban location is routinely considered a place/point of migration, a well, a deposit for the unwanted or unloved in the imagination. The homeless, teenage runaways, artists, musicians, intellectuals, criminals, gangs, illegal immigrants, foreigners, African Americans, Mexicans; this garden of unbelonging Americans clatters and claims to tow a mixture thrust into exile: a resting spot, a safe waiting room to retell the story, to redefine the Human Family which begins and ends with just being human.


The figurative drawings and paintings embrace the body as a transformative permeable vessel, fluid and unreconcilable with normative impulses that could make it uncomfortably captive.

—Rina Banerjee

Installation Views