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Telling Tales - 1980s New Delhi

From Ancient Egypt to Baroque Bologna to avant-garde Moscow, the works at Frieze Masters open up a world of stories

A knotted fibre goddess, rescued from a crate on the Île de Ré

Jhaveri Contemporary, H16

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Mrinalini Mukherjee, Yakshi, 1984, hemp fibre, 225×105×72 cm

Mrinalini Mukherjee, Yakshi, 1984, hemp fibre, 225×105×72 cm

Mrinalini Mukherjee, who died last year, spent a year working on this over two-metre-tall sculpture of knotted blue and black hemp. It’s named after Yakshi – a goddess of fertility in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faiths. An artist led by process over planning, Mukherjee complained frequently about her lack of acceptance in the male–dominated world of Indian sculpture. ‘They think that if you are not working with stone or bronze you’re not macho enough [...] I like my work to be additive or organic and something that keeps growing,’ she said.


The sculpture was sold by the artist to French collectors living in India and then travelled with them to Île de Ré off the coast of France, destined to be the jewel of a cultural centre devoted to Indian art. For years, the work lay in a crate in a seaside town, as the family raised funds to complete the building. Eventually, it was purchased by the present owner.

Issue 3

First published in Issue 3

October 2016
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