Arts

Confluence of cultures

Sakti Burman can be likened to a magician. He waves his magic wand and you enter a world which is absurd and beautiful at once. If at one place, Shiva and Parvati are only few inches away from Noah’s arc elsewhere Hanuman is in the good company of Centaurs. He, then, takes the viewer along to the world of caves. Looking like a weathered fresco, Burman reminds one of the exquisite Ajanta- Ellora caves. Stories abound and creatures populate his canvases done in a unique technique of marbelising. “The Wonder of it all”, a retrospective on Burman, on at Lalit Kala Akademi till February 22nd, encompasses the long journey of Burman. He talks about the mythical world he creates on his canvases and how he reached at this artistic juncture in life.

On India and his retrospective

I spent much of my time in Paris and now I shuttle between India and Paris. And though I regularly showcased my work in India, I wanted to showcase my work in totality here. I would always come with some work of mine and go back with a work done here. India remains central to my life and my art simply because it’s my country. I think, after going there, I have become more Indian than Indians. I didn’t give up my nationality and retain my Indian passport. Indian influences are strongly stored in my system which is why they show up so strongly in my work but as an artist, I couldn’t ignore my surroundings so absorbed French sensibilities as well. The earliest works shown here are the sketches and watercolours done when I was studying at Government College of Arts and Crafts, Kolkata, one of the best times of my life. There are three watercolours that I did in Puri, Konark and Kashmir.

On his exemplary pastels

I haven’t really shown my pastels in India though one of the few early pastels was done right here for an art show. The pastel ‘Hanuman and comedians’ was done here in 2006. It is an amalgamation of two mythologies Hindu and Greek. I wanted to have Centaur and Hanuman on the same canvas. Done directly onto the canvas, pastels are more spontaneous. They look soft and delicate.

On Devi and other recurring motifs

Devi started appearing in my work not very long ago. Being a Bengali, I grew up watching Durga Puja and various other avatars of her worshipped on various occasions but it strangely never appeared till the late 90s. That happened after I came to India and visited Kolkata. I did a series after that and a few works in the show are from this particular series. But the Devi I paint is very different. I don’t show her killing the demons. Sometimes she is holding a flower or she is portrayed like a girl, any other girl that we come across. It’s my own idea of Devi.

On the ‘beauty’ of his canvases

A famous Russian writer has said only one thing that can save the world is beauty. It’s great if people can derive joy out of my works. A lady who came to the show, told me she had tears in her eyes after seeing the exhibition. Those tears were of happiness.

On the unique ‘marbelising in oil’ technique

It started accidentally. One day while doing a work, water fell down on it creating beautiful patterns. I applied the technique to first my watercolour and then the oils. It wasn’t easy but I got the desired effect. It’s an accident but you have to control it.

(The show is presented by Apparao Gallery and will travel to Kolkata and Mumbai)


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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 12:03:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/arts/confluence-of-cultures/article2896525.ece

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