Sakti Burman returns to Delhi with sculptures

October 25th, 2008 - 11:05 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 25 (IANS) One of the early masters of Indian contemporary art, Paris-based Sakti Burman, is back to the capital after three years with a new genre of work - sculptures. He also brings with him 50 new oil paintings for an exhibition titled “Enraptured Gaze”.The show, sponsored by the Permanent Delegation of India to Unesco, opens at the Art Alive Gallery here Saturday. This is the first time Burman is exhibiting five sculptures - his latest expression of creativity - which he created in Kolkata last year. The sculptures cast in bronze and painted black are mostly figurative forms, depicting men and animals in various poses.

“This is the first time I have brought sculptures to the show and this is also the first time I am sculpting on such a scale. I am not very adept at it because I have been painting all my life. I need someone to show me the techniques,” Burman told IANS at the preview of 16 of his works here.

“Sculpting is not easy. It takes time and requires space. I am working on a series of paintings after which I plan to go to Jaipur in Rajasthan to sculpt. The city has a sculpting space and casting infrastructure. I use clay and bronze for my sculptures,” Burman said.

Burman’s journey to sculpting solid forms is a shift from his usual artistic expression - oil paintings with unique multi-coloured surface textures.

“It is just experimenting with genres. All painters sculpt at some point of their lives. It widens artistic horizon and the ambit of work,” Burman explained.

His spread of canvases include some of his well-known ones like the “The Lonely Poet”, “Music runs from Sky to Sky”, “Divinity”, “Three Graces”, “Now and Then” and “Messenger”. The show takes its name from a canvas “Enraptured Gaze”, a composition of a mother and child listening to a flautist playing his pipe.

Four dominant motifs occupy his canvases - Bal Krishna or the young Lord Krishna, Goddess Durga in new and contemporary avatars, a floating mythical being with a tail and the Noah’s Ark. The works are a blend of Mughal miniatures, Indian modern art and European art - the kind practised by Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard.

“When I first went to study in Paris in 1956, I was influenced by the culture of the country and the colourful portraits of French interiors of furniture and chimneys that Bonnard painted. I also picked up from the figures, fruits and landscapes painted by Matisse and admired Picasso,” Burman said.

The influences gave his canvases a dream-like quality where mythical beings jostled for space with deities, demi-gods, clowns, emperors, people and dreaming lovers like in the “Flying Lovers” dear to Marc Chagall, the Russian-born French artist.

“The life of a painter is to collect many things and reject many things,” Burman said.

Critics and historians trace Burman’s fascination with Noah’s Ark, a motif that recurs in his works, to a group of 16th century miniature paintings in Mughal emperor Akbar’s court showing curious boats peopled with animals and birds drifting on an agitated sea. Burman has adapted the old shapes to suit his creative needs and infuse new inflections.

The canvases bring out the child in Burman, who loves to reminicise about his years in Bangladesh as a child.

“I was brought up in a joint family and was loved by all,” said Burman, who lost his mother early.

His family is full of artists - niece Jayshri Burman, daughter Maya Burman and son-in-law Paresh Maity are all established names in their own right.

“They are all talented,” Burman said, when asked to describe his illustrious family tree.

Born in 1935, Burman studied at the Government College of Art and Craft and at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris. He has more than 40 solo shows to his credit.

Burman is married to French artist Maite Deltiel.

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