Artist Sandeep Mukherjee Is Bridging the Gap Between LA and Mumbai
8688 is the number of miles between LA and Bombay, and also the name of the ongoing group show at Project 88. It explores the idea of antipodes, and the uncanny relationship between them. We caught up with artist Sandeep Mukherjee, who almost personifies the theme, given his roots in Pune and commitments in LA, as the Professor of Art at Pomona College. Here’s five things you need to know:
His address made him a perfect fit for the show.
“I’ve known Diana [Betancourt, the curator] for a while she was introduced to my work in London at Frieze. I’ve worked with her on a couple of projects, including the Dhaka Art Summit.
She was planning this show as a sort of 10th anniversary celebration for the gallery, and she was thinking about the artists that work for the gallery, where they live…turns out a lot of artists live in LA (West Coast).
That’s when she approached me with the idea of antipodes, and to explore what it means to be at the opposite end of space and time, what does it mean to be the other.”
His piece, serpentladder, bridges the gap between LA and Bombay.
“My work is intrinsically related to that because I come from both places. And because my life is such that I travel between them. On a philosophical level it connects in terms of Advaita Non-dualist thinking, and Deleuze or French theory that comes very close to it. There’s a philosophical desire for me to bring these strains of thought to a meaningful encounter. So it’s not just this Exotic East meets Wild West; they are actually connected in a deep and profound way.”
He’s transformed the ladder beyond recognition.
“For this project I have used my 10 feet tall steel studio ladder as a mould to make an image that folds and unfolds through time and space. The image of the ladder is translated onto an aluminium sheet by physically rubbing the information much like frottage drawing. (A lot of my work has to do with rubbing. There’s an erotic quality to being rubbed up against. In the paintings I was using brooms and Q tips and all kinds of tools. It wasn’t about creating an image or representation, it was about rubbing yourself up against the world.) And then I peeled it off and I painted it, in matte with spray can – to make it feel like fleshy furry skin. Also, it had its own ladder-like texture.
It became a ladder, a bridge, but also a portal through which you walk. It also became my height, so it somehow came back to the idea of my body in some way.”
He alternates between viewer and maker.
“The maker. The viewer. The maker. The viewer. The maker. The viewer. The maker. The viewer. It just goes on and on. Sometimes the maker is really pissy. Sometimes the viewer is really picky. It’s a struggle sometimes. It’s very important for me that the work have a visual, physical, sensual, sensational – like sensation on the body – quality. I come from an engineering background so I love math, systems, I understand them. But I want to make works that employ the mind and body.”
He likes his work to have an un-nameable, un-placeable quality.
“I’m making a series of aluminium works next. I don’t know what the term should be. Without calling it painting-sculpture, or sculptures that are painted, how do I bring these two together. I’m also interested in the interaction of the viewer. A painting has that too right? But I’m trying to expand that.
Painting is also exciting, but I’ve explored that already, the flat space, the perspectile space, the fractured space, the collage space… Also what I love is when you see something, and can’t quite tell what it is. Something about it being un-nameable and un-placeable is super exciting to me.”
8688 is on till 31 December, at Project 88, BMP Building, Ground Floor, N.A. Sawant Marg, Colaba, Mumbai. Project88.in