Meera Mukherjee was born in Calcutta in 1923. At the age of 14, she joined the
art classes run by the Indian Society of Oriental Art and studied there till 194 1. After
a short break, she once again joined the Delhi Polytechnic in 1947. She received a diploma
in painting, graphics and sculpture. Subsequently, she worked under the noted Indonesian
painter Effendi who was a state guest and was living and working in Santiniketan.
Mukherjee went to Germany in 1953 to study painting in Munich. She switched to sculpture
after one term. She returned to India in 1956 after completing her course. For the next
four years she taught art in a couple of schools. From 1960 onwards, she has been
researching folk metal casting techniques as well as- the casting techniques of classical
Indian sculptures. She has also been doing her own work and held her first show in
1960 after her return from Germany.
Mukherjee used the circ perdu or the lost wax process for her
sculptures. Deeply influenced by the Dhokra sculptors of Bastar in Madhya Pradesh,
Mukherjee perfected a technique in bronze that was completely her own. Similarly, she
evolved an iconography that was unique. Opposing pulls of mass and movement, strength and
vulnerability give an intense character to her figures enhanced by the textural play
created by the use of decorative elements on the surface. Many of Mukherjee's works show
the use of Bengali calligraphy on the surface. Manifestations of playfulness and whimsy
often add another dimension to her work.
Mukherjee's work documents the life of the common people, - fishermen,
weavers, women stitching Kantha, commuters in a crowded bus, laborers laying cables and
carrying earth. Many of her sculptures also relate to music and dance. The energy and
dynamism of her studies of Baul dancers or the dancing Shiva figures have a charged
quality that overcomes the limitations of metal as a medium. The sense of movement
is also seen in her sculptures where she visualizes a river as the universe. Two elements
mark the spirit of Mukherjee's work. One is celebration of humanism and two, a yearning
for reaching beyond the quotidian and rejoicing in freedom and liberation.
11" x 10.6" x 8.8"
Ashoka at Kalinga
65" x 139"