Acclaimed Contemporary Artist Rina Banerjee’s Thought-Provoking Work Shines In New PAFA Exhibit

The artist's compelling installations, sculptures and paintings inspire awe...

The thought-provoking contemporary work of artist Rina Banerjee enlivens the galleries at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) for Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World, the first major retrospective of Banerjee’s work open now through March 31, 2019.

Co-organized with the San José Museum of Art (SJMA), Make Me a Summary of the World features the ornate, large-scale installations, mixed-media sculptures and fantastical works on paper of Banerjee, who is widely considered one of the most influential contemporary artists working today.

RINA BANERJEE FAST FACTS

  • Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World is on display now through March 31, 2019 at PAFA.
  • The exhibit is the first mid-career retrospective of contemporary artist Rina Banerjee’s work.
  • The exhibit features 59 works, including many of the artist’s large-scale installations.
  • PAFA’s museum is free on Sundays for the duration of the exhibit.

After the stint at PAFA, this years-in-the-making exhibition travels to SJMA, then hit the road on a national tour.

Two of Rina Banerjee's sculptures at PAFA exhibition
(Photo by Barbara Katus/PAFA)
Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World is embedded in PAFA’s galleries to juxtapose the artist’s modern works with some of the classic works from the museum’s American art collection.

Exhibition Overview

Banerjee — who presently splits her time between Philadelphia and New York City — worked closely with the curators to execute this project, and the result is an in-depth, monumental survey of the last 20 years of her career.

Born in Calcutta, India in 1963 and raised in the United Kingdom and the United States, Banerjee examines what it means to be an American artist through intricate assemblages and ethereal paintings with poetic, lengthy titles — some up to 180 words long — that explore themes of globalization, feminism, immigration, identity and consumption.

Guests can wander through the museum’s galleries to view the exhibit’s 59 works — some massive and complex, others more simple and contained — positioned intentionally alongside other American art from the museum’s vast collection.

Sculpture by Rina Banerjee at her exhibition at PAFA
(Photo by Barbara Katus/PAFA)
Japanese mosquito nets, hot-pink feathers and a resin alligator skull come together with other objects to form Banerjee’s sculpture The world as burnt fruit….

Banerjee’s stunning large-scale sculptures and installations — with titles just as thought-provoking as the art itself — are crafted with materials sourced from around the globe, including cowrie shells, colorful feathers, vintage Kashmir shawls and mosquito netting.

Selections of Banerjee’s imaginative and nuanced works on paper are exhibited with the installations and sculptures as well.

Exhibition Highlights

The first installation (pictured below) to greet guests is Viola, from New Orleans-ah…, the artist’s powerful 21st-century interpretation of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, a marble Hellenistic sculpture of the goddess Nike from the second century B.C. that sits in the Louvre. (Note: The abbreviated version of this title and others is used throughout this article).

Banerjee’s take is a fierce-looking assemblage made of more than 15 different materials, including cowrie shells, a Yoruba African mask, Korean silks, Japanese seed glass beads and colonial mirror sconces. An impressively light, whimsical parachute extends from the back of the piece to the ceiling of the museum. Curators point to this masterful piece as one in which the major themes of Banerjee’s work come together.

Sculpture by Rina Banerjee at PAFA exhibition
(Photo by Barbara Katus/PAFA)
Viola, from New Orleans-ah... explores many common themes of Banerjee’s striking art, including identity, colonialism, gender and the impact of climate change.

Other exhibit highlights include the neon-pink, floating model of the Taj Mahal (Take me, take me, take me…to the Palace of love), the empowered, revenge-seeking interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood (Little Red Riding Hood) and a gigantic, hanging canopy made of glass horns, netting, light bulbs and more mixed media (A World Lost…).

The exhibit also invites guests to an interactive space after the exhibit, where they can see, touch and learn more about some of the materials that Banerjee uses most prominently in her work, watch a video of her installation process and more.

The hot-pink Taj Mahal installation by Rina Banerjee at PAFA exhibition
(Photo by Barbara Katus/PAFA)
One of the largest and most visually-stimulating pieces by Banerjee, Take me, take me, take me…to the Palace of love explores modern romance and the commodification of marriage.

Exhibition Programming

Programming related to Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World takes place at PAFA throughout the run of the exhibition.

Highlights include a panel on Philadelphia’s relevance and importance in global conversations (November 17, 2018), an afternoon of conversations about themes like the art vs. craft debate (December 1, 2018) and a free family arts workshop that teaches guests how to make an exhibition-inspired glowing orb (December 16, 2018).

Tickets

PAFA’s museum is free on Sundays for the duration of the exhibit.

On all other days when the museum is open, tickets are included with general admission: $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $12 for students, $8 for youth (ages 13-18) and free for children (ages 12 and under), military personnel, members, current PAFA students and PAFA alumni.

Make plans to see the first North American retrospective of one of the most compelling contemporary artists working today, on view now through March 31, 2019.

Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World

When:October 27, 2018 through March 31, 2019
Where:Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 118 N. Broad Street
Cost:Included with general admission: $15, adults; $12, seniors and students; $8 youth (ages 13-18); free, children (ages 12 and under), military personnel, members, current PAFA students and PAFA alumni. The museum is free on Sundays through the duration of the exhibit.

www.pafa.org

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