Height 7 1/2 in. (19.2 cm.)
Meera Mukherjee's approach to sculpture is a slow, measured process that perfectly combines tradition with modernity. She follows the centuries old cire perdue or lost wax method that she learned whilst apprenticing with the local Gharva artisans who live in the interior forests of Bastar, Madhya Pradesh. Interestingly, it is these artisans who are responsible for making icons of grama devatas for several tribals, including those of the goddess Mata who is synonymous with the goddess Durga.
These artisans' working methods, and by extension Mukherjee's, is a seasonal process that begins with her initially modelling her ideas into clay and then applying the wax which then melts away, 'providing runners or channels for the gases to escape in the furnace.' The works are then fired in the furnace each winter, and no more than six to seven are cast each year due to the complex process involved. (Geeti Sen, 'Bronzes by Meera Mukherjee - The Relations of Tradition to Contemporary Sculpture', Lalit Kala Contemporary 27, New Delhi, April 1979, p. 5) After the initial mould is cast, the surface of the sculpture is then further decorated and built up using wax strips or rolls, as is seen in the coils of fishing nets that are wrapped around both figures in the current work. The result is a smooth yet tactile surface, with graceful movement and postures.
The fisherman and his young apprentice, seen in the current work, belong to Mukherjee's preferred genre of subjects. They embody the human predicament with their resilient and dignified attitude when faced with the harsh realities of life. As a testament to their physically laborious jobs, she has shown both figures with well-defined, muscled bodies; both expertly handling the coils of net they have to manoeuver each day. She chose her subjects with care, preferring to elevate the everyday labourer and ordinary workmen to the status of a 'semi-hero'.
'The bronzes of Meera Mukherjee... are independent formulations of problems which are contemporary, which focus on her interpretations of present life and society. Yet they speak through a language of form and idiom that is traditional... they stir chords in the viewer of primeval urges, of an instinctive rapport and harmony with the universe, as the rhythm that characterizes most dhokra images. They have thus an inner voice, an almost subtle subconscious appeal, through images and forms that are somehow familiar, and therefore insistent on an immediate response from the viewer.' (ibid.)
The colour of the original is a lighter gold than the catalogue illustration and the speckled patina of the bronze is slightly richer than appears in the catalogue illustration. White accretions in the deepest crevasses in the bronze, partially visible in the catalogue illustration. Would benefit from aminor specialised cleaning. Overall good condition.
About The Artist:
MEERA MUKHERJEE (1923 - 1998)