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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.