Rina Banerjee: Tender Mahal – Lifted


For her first project at Hosfelt Gallery, Rina Banerjee brings together a monumental, pink, Mughal-inspired sculpture and a group of her delicate and sensuous paintings on paper, in a paean to the potential of 21st century love.


Banerjee, who was born in Kolkata, India and lives in New York, works with a cosmopolitan eclecticism that reflects both her transnational background and her sophisticated understanding of the narrative power of objects. Using trinkets made for the tourist trade, horn, bone, feathers, shells, textiles, glass bottles and antiques – she assembles rapturous sculptures that are mystifyingly shamanistic, yet overflowing with connotation. Her works are hyper-ornamented and lushly seductive. Conjoining rarities with cheap, mass-produced bric-a-brac, she appropriates extravagantly while rejecting hierarchies of material, culture and value.


The sculpture at the center of this installation takes its form from the Taj Mahal. Often cited as the most beautiful building in the world, it is the epitome of Mughal architecture – an amalgam of elements of Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian styles – a design hybrid born of two thousand years of incursions, migrations, invasions and colonization. The Taj Mahal is also the world’s most famous monument to romantic love – a lavish and unabashed public display of affection. Banerjee’s palace is rendered in pink plastic rather than white marble. It’s decorated with fake pearls, cowrie shells and florist’s moss rather than jade, turquoise and carnelian. A marriage of high and low culture, it is a mutation – emblematic of a world constantly in flux – of societies continuously reshaping their belief systems. It is a refusal to make judgments based on traditional notions of beauty, importance, worth or usefulness. For the first time in history, Banerjee argues, humanity has an opportunity to consider love outside concerns of reproduction or patrimony and beyond issues of race, gender or religion. This exhibition is a tender tribute to the emergence of love for the sake of love.


Rina Banerjee received a BS in Polymer Engineering and worked as a research chemist before completing her MFA at Yale in 1995. Her work was included in the 2000 Whitney Biennial, the 2005 Greater New York Show at PS1/MOMA, and will be in the upcoming 2013 Venice Biennale’s Murano Glass Project. The Smithsonian Museum’s Sackler Gallery will present a solo exhibition of her work opening July 6. Her work is in the collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Brooklyn Museum, Berkeley Art Museum, SFMOMA, the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), and many others.

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