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Artist Sandeep Mukherjee plays with movement in his experimental laboratory

The Los Angeles-based artist experiments with dynamic abstraction in his studio, the layout of which can be changed and reconfigured with different projects

Sandeep Mukherjee's workspace is modular, flexible, and open, with natural sunlight. Photo: courtesy the artist/ Project 88

By Avantika Bhuyan

LAST PUBLISHED 18.06.2023  |  01:00 PM IST

There is nothing static about Sandeep Mukherjee’s works. The life-sized sculptural forms and acrylic paints that form a part of his exhibition, Approaching Limits—the artist’s third solo at Project 88, Mumbai—offer an immersive experience. As you move around the space, your engagement with the artwork changes. In the Parallax series, for instance, the cosmic motifs coil and recoil, while in others, the geometric patterns pulsate with energy. There is something very dynamic about Mukherjee’s new body of work, and that offers a different perspective on abstraction—making it something perceptual. In a chat with Lounge, the Los Angeles-based artist elaborates on his constant exploration of movement and materiality, and how his studio space inspires this process.

How does the ongoing exhibition take your exploration of materiality and movement even further?

In my work, movement is considered as prior to space and time. All seemingly discrete bodies are the result of moving flows of matter, which continually fold themselves up in various patterns, or “fields of motion".  Hence material is not considered to be a passive and an inactive entity, but rather one that is active, continuous, and transforming through motion or flow. The artwork, thus created, is a slice of this motion. The current exhibition is composed of work, which employs different approaches to create a wide network of experiences and ideas. Flat works on duralene (a kind of mylar) and aluminum, as well as sculptural creations of aluminum, are in a dynamic conversation with each other. The works are on the wall as well as suspended from the ceiling. The new body straddles various genres of art—drawing, painting, sculpture, and installation.

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How does the engagement of the viewer with the works change from different vantage points?

For my practice, abstraction is a verb, not a noun. Abstraction does not refer to a style, an art movement, or an aesthetic but rather a movement of perspective—to see something that was previously invisible. The current exhibition, Approaching Limits, requires the viewer to move and experience the work in a dynamic manner, to see them from different points of view and at different speeds. As you move closer to the work, the textural aspect increases and the sense of the haptic is heightened. The colour becomes an immersive field. From mid-distance, the scale has a different effect. It creates a relationship with the viewer’s body and becomes anthropomorphic, in a sense.  From a distance, the works appear as views of environments, natural elements, textiles, and more.

Could you describe your current workspace to us?

My workspace is modular, flexible, and open with natural sunlight. The various elements in the studio—such as tables, shelves, flat files, and tools—are on wheels so that they can be moved to reconfigure the space as needed. I think of it as an experimental laboratory, whose layout changes with different projects. Nothing is fixed.

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How would you define your daily relationship with this space?

It is a space of discovery, joy, and focus for me. It is a place where the mind quietens down and I can hear my own voice. I follow a regular schedule of five working day each week. I work in sunlight, and the studio is not a workspace after sunset.

Could you talk about some of the eureka moments that you have had in this workspace?

The biggest eureka moment I have had in my new studio (been there for a year now) is regarding colour. In my past studio of 16 years, I worked in artificial light. My experience of colour had been calibrated to this setup. But working with colour in natural light is an astonishingly different experience, and I feel like a new understanding has entered my work.

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What is that one thing that has stayed in all your studio spaces?

Playfulness, experimentation, and discipline. 

Who are your biggest inspirations in art and design?

Nature, music, and dance. 

Creative Corner is a series about writers, artists, musicians, founders and other creative individuals and their relationships with their workspaces.