Studio visit: Rina Banerjee

Ahead of two of her works being offered in New York, the Indian-born, US-based artist shares insights into her practice and shows us round her studio in Brooklyn

Rina Banerjee was born in India in 1963 but grew up in London and New York. After graduating from university in Ohio she worked as a scientist before studying for a Masters in Fine Arts at Yale in 1995. When asked why she turned to making art she observes, ‘Where else can we have the pleasure, if not in art, of exploring when we are incoherent — but are [nevertheless] saying something?’

Combining fabric, feathers, shells and all manner of organic and constructed ephemera into a conjured cosmos all her own, Banerjee evokes fairytale, fantasy and, often, a hint of dread.

Her drawings, paintings and large-scale sculptures and installations explore ideas of identity, history, and ethnic diversity and, as a review in ArtForum commented, the titles she gives these works are often ‘more intricate than their constituent parts’.

‘I like to play with the idea that we have an awareness of our ability to make our own histories, precisely and indefinitely,’ Banerjee explains. ‘That we can constantly edit and reshape it to suit to our own discovery of ourselves.’

Exhibited internationally, her work features in many private and public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Queens Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, and Centre Pompidou.

Make Me a Summary of the World, her mid-career retrospective, opened last year at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and is currently on show at the San José Museum of Art in California. SF/Arts curator Christian L. Frock describes the exhibition as ‘amazing’.

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Writing for Forbes, Clayton Press, the respected collector, curator and identifier of emerging talent, described Banerjee’s work as ‘dazzling, breathtaking and confounding’ and ‘fresh, original and exhilarating’.

You can find out more about Rina Banerjee on her official website, and see previous and upcoming works offered at Christie’s on her dedicated artist page.