Sketches of life

A slice of culture His paintings draw on influences from life

A slice of culture His paintings draw on influences from life   | Photo Credit: Photo: Bhagya Prakash. K

Sakti Burman's serigraphs that encompass his artistic journey over a period of 20 years are on display

French artist Edouard Manet's revolutionary “picnic on the grass” work — two artists or intellectual figures, a naked nymph or a prostitute looking straight into the eyes, and a clothed woman dipping into the pool — fuses magically with the Mughal ambience of the Taj. “Now, it becomes ‘picnic in Taj',” says the venerable artist Sakti Burman with an affable smile.

Sakti Burman's “Taj Mahal” is one among the 24 serigraphs, which are on display at Sumukha Art Gallery. The serigraphs are his seminal works, based on paintings that encompass the journey of the artist over a period of 20 years.

“I saw the painting in Paris in 1956. And, when I was doing a series on Taj Mahal, I wanted to pay homage to the 19 {+t} {+h} century artist Manet and also to Shah Jahan.” The Serigraph Studio of Lavesh Jagasia is showcasing the limited edition serigraphs show titled “The Complete Collection” by Sakti Burman.

“It's a long, long journey. It becomes a kind of a discipline,” says the artist, who lives and works in Paris. “First I draw, and then put up the colours to get the marbling effect resembling murals, and then I paint in detail the figures, the ornaments and dresses.” This translates into putting in meticulous eight to 10 hours every day for over two months for a single painting.

In “Homage to Kalighat”, he represents Krishna as a flautist with his peacock, and the divine family of Shiva with Ganapathi and Parvathi on one side and a human father, mother and child on the other side. “She is my sister-in-law. I draw sketches from life. There is Krishna with cows and his companion and all the European girls coming to Mathura,” he says.

Sakti Burman describes “Happy as a bird”, in which he presents a family calibrated between myth and reality, as a family portrait. “It has my daughter, my son, grandson and grand niece.”

In “Festival”, which has sadhus singing in a French village, Narada Muni is represented as an animal-headed dancer, an image related from Indian mythology.

The artist, who moved to Paris at 20 to study, took with him a slice of Indian culture “Pujas, festivals and rangoli were very much part of our lives. I was an Indian boy in Europe. As I was studying, making or destroying paintings, the culture-to-culture got mixed. It happens unconsciously.”

That explains the influences from the frescos and murals. The artist is fond of mythology too. “It gives you the space for imagination. We are living with it, maybe Shiva is not dancing with you but they are not something out of space. All mythology speaks in the symbol of same ideology,” the artist explains.

Mythology meets technology

About juxtaposing Durga with Noah's Ark, he says, both incarnate the hopes and desires that the societies have nurtured. Referring to “Flute player” which has his grandchildren playing about, Sakti Burman says: “They are also gods and goddesses for me.” “Journey” is a fascinating work merging technology and science with mythological figures — there is a figure of a mother inside the moon with that of an astronaut, and other figures include a seven-headed figure, a man reclining on the beach and a child, symbolising future. “A lovely summer day” is presented as a mirror image. “Mirror is the place where you have the confrontation between you and your unconscious self, you ask questions and do not get the answers. The painting is a reflection of the true inner self.”

He has featured Durga more, as she is a familiar image of his place, Bengal. He draws his inspiration from life, what he acquires from it, the environment and also the people. About Taj Mahal? “One cannot live without romance. When we are in love, everything is nice,” smiles the artist.

The exhibition is on till March 10.


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