Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World

  • An installation wall shows an entrance to the exhibition "Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World" which is written in bright pink letters on a gray wall. Through an adjacent doorway a bright pink 3-dimensional temple is at the back of a barrel-vaulted gallery.

    Photos by JKA Photography​

  • An installation view into a long barrel-vaulted gallery shows small paintings and large-scale sculptures hanging from the ceiling. The hanging works include a floating bright pink temple and a nest-like structure that hovers over a landscape of beach sand on the gallery floor.
  • A hanging sculpture in a gallery resembles a bird’s nest attached to a skeleton hot air balloon. Long upward-turning black horns and red tassels adorn it. The gallery floor is covered with white sand peppered with a river of red, patches of blue, and mini bushes or trees.
  • Three colorful objects protrude from a wall, casting dramatic shadows on the wall below and on to a small pedestal that sits on the floor. The unevenly arranged objects resemble plants or floral arrangements with feathered petals, horned stamens, and large green leaves.
  • A large sculpture on the floor in the corner of a gallery emerges diagonally out of a shallow pile of white sand on the floor. It resembles something between a satellite disk and an oversized flower and is made of upward curving black horns, shells, and feathers.
  • A human-sized black basket filled with large straw flowers sits on its side in the corner of a gallery. Emerging from its center is a long snake-like growth that appears vegetative except for the glowing eyes and tweezer-like beak at its end which holds a globe-like orb.
  • Two oversized sculptures protrude from walls of a gallery corner. Their plant-like forms attach to the wall with rigid stems that arch out to support drooping flower buds—hanging down like lampshades. In the distance are 2 bulbous sculptures lying on a platform and 2 small paintings.
  • A giant sculpture mounted on a wall resembles an insect with antenna reaching up and long legs extending downwards. A network of tubes expanding from either side of it suggest wings or a web. It sits on top of a painted cloud that wraps from the wall to ceiling and floor.
  • A gallery installation view shows three small framed paintings and a colorful relief sculpture mounted next to them. The sculpture is made of feathers, curving black horns, and other materials including a fantastical reptilian creature holding 2 orbs in its front claws.
  • In a gallery corner are 2 multimedia sculptures with another work in the distance. The left is an avian creature with red and yellow feathers, a pointy stick, and other found objects. The right resembles a human holding an umbrella above, made of unknown objects.
  • A gallery space shows three small framed paintings on the left wall and a sculptural work on the right. The sculpture resembles a tree with branches, yellow and orange feathery leaves, and wooden gourds hanging downwards.
  • A gallery with a low table in the middle with sand surrounding the table and shell-like items on it. Seaweed appears to be draped around it with more sand. On the wall behind are 2 plant-like sculptures and 2 paintings. In the distance is a screen with indecipherable content.

    Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World is the first mid-career retrospective of the artist’s work. Co-organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, and San José Museum of Art, the exhibition presents almost twenty years of Banerjee’s large-scale installations, sculptures, and paintings—including a re-creation of her work from the 2000 Whitney Biennial; sculptures featured in the 2017 Venice Biennale; and recent work for the Prospect 4 New Orleans biennial.

    Banerjee creates vivid sculptures and installations made from materials sourced throughout the world. She is a voracious gatherer of objects—in a single sculpture one can find African tribal jewelry, colorful feathers, light bulbs, Murano glass, and South Asian antiques in conflict and conversation with one another. These sensuous assemblages reverberate with bright colors and surprising textures present simultaneously as familiar and unfamiliar.

    Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World focuses on four interdependent themes in Banerjee’s work that coincide with important issues of our time: immigration and identity; the lasting effects of colonialism and its relationship to globalization; feminism; and climate change.

    Exhibition Catalogue

    A full-color, 160-page catalogue was co-published by SJMA and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, on the occasion of this exhibition. It illumines the crossover contexts in which Banerjee works—as an American artist, a native of India, a global citizen, and a feminist. It includes full color illustrations, a detailed chronology of the artist’s life and work, and essays by co-curators Lauren Schell Dickens (SJMA) and Jodi Throckmorton (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts); Rachel Kent, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and writer Allie Biswas.

    $45, available for purchase at the Museum Store.

    Rina Banerjee Invites You into her Studio

    Rina Banerjee Takes You Shopping

    Artist Biography

    Born in Calcutta, India in 1963, Banerjee grew up in London and eventually moved to New York. She received her BS degree in Polymer Engineering at Case Western University in 1993 and took a job as a polymer research chemist upon graduation. She left the science profession to receive her MFA from Yale University in 1995. Banerjee’s work has been exhibited internationally, including but not limited to New York City; Paris; London; Tokyo; Los Angeles; New Delhi; Milan; Singapore; and notably an installation at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC in 2013. The artist’s works are also included in many private and public collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Centre George Pompidou, Paris; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Queens Museum, New York City; and the Brooklyn Museum, New York City. Her work was recently featured in Viva Art Viva at the 2017 Venice Biennale and Prospect.4 in New Orleans. Rina Banerjee currently lives and works in New York City and Philadelphia.

    Exhibition Schedule

    San José Museum of Art (May 16, 2019–October 6, 2019)

    Co-organizer Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia (October 27, 2018–March 31, 2019)

    Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
    San José Museum of Art

    Travel Venues

    Fowler Museum at University of California, Los Angeles (December 8, 2019–May 31, 2020)

    Frist Art Museum, Nashville, Tennessee (July 24–October 25, 2020)

    Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina (February 18–July 11, 2021)


    Exhibition Surveys Work of Sculptor Rina Banerjee, Hi-Fructose
    May 9, 2019

    Famed Indian artist Rina Banerjee’s 1st major exhibit showing in San Jose, The Mercury News
    May 20, 2019

    Rina Banerjee's Worldview, Metroactive
    June 19, 2019

    Surreal cityscapes? Candy wrapper ball gowns? Binge on creativity all summer via these local art exhibits., The Six Fifty
    June 19, 2019

    Forms of Exchange: Rina Banerjee Interviewed by Tausif Noor, Bomb Magazine
    July 29, 2019

    An early start to celebrating the US centennial of women’s suffrage, The Art Newspaper
    August 20, 2019

    At SJMA, Rina Banerjee's Retrospective Embraces a Fluid Complexity, KQED Arts
    September 6, 2019

    Rina Banerjee turns the Taj Mahal a soft red at the San José Museum of Art, Stir World
    September 10, 2019

    Best of 2019, Squarecylinder.com
    December 24, 2019


    Exhibition co-organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, and San José Museum of Art. Sponsored by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, the Lipman Family Foundation, Tad Freese and Brook Hartzell, Marsha and Jon Witkin, Melanie and Peter Cross, Hosfelt Gallery, Cheryl and Bruce Kiddoo, McManis Faulkner, Latham & Watkins, Shruti and Pawan Tewari, Peggy and Yogen Dalal, Elaine Cardinale, and Lisa and Keith Lubliner. Additional support provided by Leela de Souza Bransten and Peter Bransten, Lucia Cha and Dr. Jerrold Hiura, Christie’s, Glenda and Gary Dorchak, Pamela Hornik, Wanda Kownacki, Elena Lebedeva and Alvin Smith, Rachel and Simon Segars, and Sotheby’s. Supported, in part, by a Cultural Affairs grant from the City of San José. The catalogue is supported by Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CA, and L.A. Louver, Venice, CA.

    hosfelt gallery
    Latham & Watkins
    City of San José

    Programs at SJMA are made possible by generous support from a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José, The Lipman Family Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the San José Museum of Art Endowment Fund established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Creative Minds (May 15, 2019): Sponsored by Christie’s and Bay 101.


    • A large flower-like object rests slightly tilted on the floor. The exterior petals resemble black tusks with contrasting white feathers making up the inner petals. The center is a combination of ocean shells with a large white egg sitting at the very top.

      Rina Banerjee, Winter’s Flower—Raw materials from sea and from foul and even from some exotic mice was eaten by a world hungry for commerce made these into flower, disguised could be savored alongside whitened rice, 2010. Oyster shells, fish bone, thread, cowrie shells, diety eyes, copper trim, ostrich egg, epoxy American buffalo horns, steel, fabricated umbrella structure, steel stand, pigeon feather fans, 21 5/8 × 61 × 78 3/8 inches. Trioche DeLeon Collection and Art Vantage PCC Ltd, Basel.

    • A unique object hangs on the wall, its long green grass sprouting tan gourds at the tips. The small gourds have dots resembling eyes, making them look like creatures. Dark hair weaves through the grass and glass vials are attached to a pole.

      Rina Banerjee, Lentil flour, chickpeas mixed fermented friedballs presented in the leaf of bananas could cure the hunger of a laboring man, 2008. Shells, plastic, gourds, and nylon hair, 47 1/4 × 31 3/8 × 51 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Natalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels.

    • A long-necked dragon creature emerges from an orb-shaped nest made of sheer black textile. The dragon head is an alligator skull, its mouth holding a small globe between sharp teeth. Hot pink bundles of feathers emerge from the creatures neck and nest.

      Rina Banerjee, The world as burnt fruit—When empires feuded for populations and plantations, buried in colonial and ancient currency a Gharial appeared from an inky melon—hot with blossom sprang forth to swallow the world not yet whole as burnt fruit, 2009. Fans, feather, cowrie shells, resin alligator, skull, globe, glass vials, light bulbs, gourds, steel wire and Japanese mosquito nets, 90 × 253 × 90 inches. Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, India.

    • A tall sculptural work sits on a white pedestal, black long horns and tusks protrude from the middle. Drift wood comprises the base, two tattered parasols stick out from the very top and the back, a black rhino figure is nestled in the middle.

      Rina Banerjee, Make me a summary of the world! She was his guide and had traveled on camel, rhino, elephant and kangaroo, dedicated to dried plants, glass houses—for medical study, vegetable sexuality, self-pollination, fertilization her reach pierced the woods country by country, 2014. Wood rhino, Chinese umbrellas, sea sponges, linen, beads, pewter soldier, grape vines, glass chandelier drops, acrylic horns, wire, nylon and bead flower, 7 × 4 ft. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Natalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels.

    • A close-up of a pink fragile (perhaps paper) sculpture in which we peer through the pink doorway at an ancient throne laden with what appears to be pink pomegranates or some other fruit. The entire display floats off the ground above a marble globe.

      Rina Banerjee, Take me, take me, take me...to the Palace of love (detail), 2003. Plastic, antique Anglo-Indian Bombay dark wood chair, steel, and copper framework, floral picks, foam balls, cowry shells, quilting pins, red colored moss, antique stone globe, glass, synthetic fabric, shells, fake birds. 13 × 13 × 18 ft. Courtesy of the artist, RB Storage, NYC. (detail)

      Creative Minds: Rina Banerjee

      • A woman in a pink shirt with a plaid blazer speaks to a large audience, arm raised pointing to the dual hanging screens behind her. The room is filled with seated people facing her.

        Photos by JKA Photography​

      • A woman in a pink shirt with a plaid blazer speaks to a large audience, arm raised pointing to the dual hanging screens behind her. The room is filled with seated people facing her.
      • Two seated speakers, each holding microphones, face a very large seated crowd. Behind them hang two oversized hanging screens with large bright thin horizontal rectangles and text below.
      • Two women holding microphones sit in chairs on a stage. Between them is a laptop and water bottles. The woman on the left has her back to the camera and is facing the other speaker.
      • A guest speaker with green glasses in a red outfit holds a microphone and is seated next to a small table with a laptop and two small bottles of water. She is in the act of speaking.

        Opening Reception

        • Photos by JKA Photography​​

        • A photograph of four individuals posed with two holding glasses of red wine, at an indoor gathering. Some people are in the background socializing.
        • Two women with name tags pose for a photo together. The taller woman stands behind the shorter woman with her hands holding her shoulders in a friendly gesture.
        • A group of women stand at the entrance of a gallery posing for a photo. They are all smiling warmly, one of them is holding a beverage.
        • Two people pose for a photo, one is holding a wine glass. A long horizontal work of abstract art is seen in the blurred background.
        • Three people in business casual attire pose for a photo. They all have warm smiles. Some of their name tags indicate they are trustees.
        • Two older gentlemen stand in the museum lobby. They hold their drinks to the camera in celebration.
        • Three people smiling at the camera hold drinks while standing in the museum lobby, in front of the elevator.
        • A couple smiling at the camera in a museum lobby. Behind the couple is a woman looking up at something unseen, hanging from the ceiling. She holds a plate of undetermined food.
        • Three people smiling for a posed photograph. On the left is an older man wearing glasses and a button down shirt. In the middle is a woman wearing a quilted blazer. To the right is a tall woman wearing a striped blazer.
        • Two women and one man smile for a photograph in a museum space that is crowded with people. The woman on the left has short blonde hair. Next to her is a man with short brown hair. To the right of him is a woman with short black hair.
        • A group photo of five individuals at an indoor gathering.  Many other people socialize in the background.
        • Two people pose for a photograph in front of double arched entryway with a bar behind them.
        • Groups of people are standing and talking with one another, some holding beverages. A colorful patterned mural and an open door with the word "STORE" are seen in the background.
        • A group of three people stand in front of a black table holding stacked glassware. One person is talking while the other two people are listening, happily holding their wine glasses.
        • A large gathering of people mingle in a lobby. Some of them are holding beverages and smiling as they converse. A large sculptural work is seen hanging from the ceiling near the entrance of the lobby.
        • A group of 4 men, dressed casually in the lobby of the San José Museum of art, smile at the camera. Several other visitors mill around in the background of the photo.
        • Three women smiling cheerfully from inside a crowded museum lobby.
        • Three people smiling at the camera holding drinks. They stand in a crowded lobby with a party atmosphere.
        • Two women stand for a posed photograph in a large museum space. Behind them is a table. The woman on the left has long dark straight hair and is wearing a sleeveless black dress. Next to her is a woman with long light brown curly hair wearing glasses and a long sleeved black dress.
        • Three women pose for a photograph in an open museum space. They are holding beverages while people mill about in the background.