For the last several years, Sandeep Mukherjee has created drawings and installations that extend figurative drawing and minimalist painting to new realms. In his work, Mukherjee links playful intent and sensuous materiality with intellectual rigor, exploring through evocative figurative abstractions the illusive terrain of subjectivity, cultural specificity, and hybridity. He brings together a multiplicity of references—the Baroque, Pop Art, Minimalism, Pattern and Decoration, Indian miniature paintings, illuminated manuscripts, classical figurative sculpture—to explore phenomenological relations among light and space, to question traditional notions of representation, and to alter profoundly our expectations of art and consciousness.
In fields of glowing color, Mukherjee draws exquisitely rendered figures and forms that hover and float through an enigmatic space. He creates these poetic visions by means of a precise and painstaking process—sheets of Duralene (a translucent vellum-like paper) are airbrushed with brilliant hues, then the opposing surface is delicately drawn with fine pencils, and both sides are embossed with scribing/etching tools. The embossing breaks the plane of the surface and creates a kind of linear relief sculpture. Light striking the surface transforms the embossed line into dimensional form and creates spatial relationships to the painted and drawn elements.
Born in India and based in Los Angeles, Mukherjee continues to negotiate a wide range of cultures, genres, and media. For this exhibition, the artist presents a new monumental drawing installation that further expands the scope of his work by adding new layers of meaning and new devices of scale. Using the same techniques as previously, the artist has now shifted his content into an arena that conflates Asian landscape painting conventions with a postmodern image of subjectivity as presented through shifting figure/ground relationships and the poetic ambiguity of the narrative content. By including popular cultural references, as well as those from the canon of art history, Mukherjee extends the discourse of modernism by injecting it with a playful, sentimental, and sexy content.
Sandeep Mukherjee’s exhibition is the twenty-first in the Pomona College Museum of Art’s Project Series, an ongoing program of small exhibitions that brings to the Pomona College campus art that is experimental and that introduces new forms, techniques, or concepts.