Meera Mukherjee, ‘Boatmen’, Christie's South Asian + Chinese

I have never made art for art's sake. Nor have I done what I have done with any hope of gain. The beginning of every work I have taken on, has been an impulse. However, ideas, emotions, are only the beginning, to realize them in forms, calls for sustained physical as well as mental effort. (Artist statement, Meera Mukherjee: A Retrospective, 1963-1983, exhibition catalogue, Jehangir Art Gallery, Bombay, April, 1983)

Recipient of the Padma Shri, President's Award of Master Craftsman, Abanindranath Award from the West Bengal Government, Mukherjee emerged onto the Indian art scene at a time that was transitional, full of change and eclecticism. Borrowing from tradition and modernity her works have an immediacy that transcends into the contemporary. Deeply influenced by the Dhokra technique of Bastar in Madhya Pradesh, Meera Mukherjee perfected a technique in bronze that was unique. Mukherjee's innovative process and approach to bronze constituted sculpting the works first in wax, so as to preserve the tactile nature of the material upon which she would then build up and add surface decoration in wax strips and rolls. The bronze finish consequently appears organic and malleable imbuing the work with lyricism and rhythm as it captures a dynamic moment in time.

Mukherjee developed an iconography that was personal and through the evolution of her work she formulated an idiom that is rooted in the folk traditions of the past but like a colloquial tongue expresses itself with such reinscribed relevance that it resonates within the contemporary. Boatmen playfully depicts swarming fishermen, young and old, struggling with their traditional fishing net and their unimpressive bounty. The dynamic lyricism of hatched net and rhythmic figures exudes movement as if these figures are entangled in an ecstatic dance around their ensnared catch.

Image rights: [Christie's](

Bernried, Buchheim Museum, Remembering Meera Mukherjee, September - October 2012

Remembering Meera Mukherjee, exhibition catalogue, Bernried, 2012, unpaginated (illustrated)

About Meera Mukherjee

Indian, 1923-1998, Kolkata, India, based in Kolkata, India

Group Shows

Mysteries of the Organism