Pomona College Associate Professor of Art Sandeep Mukherjee has been awarded a prestigious 2017 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship granted on the basis of demonstrated exceptional creative ability in the arts. He is among 173 U.S. scholars, artists and scientists chosen from a group of nearly 3,000 applicants.
For more than a decade Mukherjee’s work has explored the notion of abstracting as a means to slice or carve a particular aspect of flowing matter. Working in painting, drawing and installation, his work is process-oriented and improvisational. The Los Angeles-based artist, originally from Pune, India, has works in numerous public collections, including those of MOCA, Los Angeles; MOMA, New York; LACMA; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in New Delhi and the Jumex Collection, Mexico City.
“My work investigates material limits as a strategy to engage perceptual subjectivity and affect,” says Mukherjee. “The material transformations push the conceptual limits of the work while insisting on the physicality of the human body and its corporeal index in the work and the world.”
As an artist, Mukherjee’s background in the sciences as an industrial engineer inspire his technique, choice of materials and process. His personal story and the cross-cultural effects of growing up in India influence his work as well. As a child, he described objects to his blind grandmother and in turn, she described the objects as she experienced them through tact and texture. This experience of translation plays a big role in his installations since haptic sensitivity and modularity are important aspects of the work.
Mukherjee has plans for two projects for the year-long Guggenheim Fellowship. Both projects involve painted and folded aluminum sculptures one which will be exhibited at 68projects gallery in Berlin this September.
For his first project, Mukherjee will use his 2006 Mini Cooper hatchback as a mold. Using 4x4-foot industrial grade aluminum sheets, he will map the outside of the car and then hand mold and press against the aluminum. The 18 sculpted aluminum surfaces are then painted on both sides with acrylic from spray bottles, an action that mimics mist or rain as falls onto the molded surfaces. The works will be suspended from the ceiling by wire and each piece will be adjusted for center of gravity fluctuations so that the aggregate holds itself together as a continuous surface.
Using a similar concept for his second project, Mukherjee will use his body as a mold that will be wrapped and unwrapped over time with aluminum sheets sized and fashioned in the manner of clothing such as saris, lungis, dhotis, shawls or scarves. After the aluminum sheets have been wrapped around Mukherjee’s body, they are unwrapped and uncoiled onto the floor and then spray painted with acrylic. This installation of various garment sculptures is mutable and can be altered according to the exhibition site to be determined in Los Angeles or Mumbai.
Since its establishment in 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has granted more than $350 million in fellowships to over 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, Turing Award winners, poets laureate, members of the various national academies, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, and other important, internationally recognized honors.