Sakti Burman’s collection on display at Akar Prakar in Kolkata

Sketching through memories and myths

Kolkata, Apr 11 (IBNS): Contemporary Indian artist Sakti Burman’s collection on display at Akar Prakar in Kolkata takes the viewer through an entangled mesh of mythological fantasies, reminiscences and musings.

The large canvased pastel sketches with clear broad lines cradling to life Burman’s own take on both Greek and Indian mythical figures, at first sight might appear rather confounding to the eyes of an amateur.

One might wonder why “men merge with beasts” or why “Hanuman” glances from the sky at the myriad of strange forms but a closer glimpse into the entirety of it tells the limner’s tale caught within clean elegant strokes.

“I have always been fascinated by the concept of mythology both Greek and Indian and which is why they found a way to creep into my paintings from my subconscious. I believe that after many centuries even we can transform into mythical figures and that is something I wanted to portray through my works,” Burman said.

One particular “etching” that catches the eye is of a woman’s head with a bird’s body along with grey effusive strokes coiling upwards in a rather smoky manner.

“All my excited enjoyment of art in India and in the West that lay in the unconscious, all the myths, fairy tales, my love for music and Tagore’s songs and Baudelaire’s poetry — all went into the making of my paintings, guided heavily by spirituality,” said Burman.

Once past the bird-woman a sight of two lovers on an elephant in the shadow of the Sacre-Coeur appears with a mesmerizing effect and one must wonder if it’s all in the magic of “etching”.

Burman explained that “etching” is closer to printing than painting and hence it manages to form a unique effect of its own.

“While working with etching I was trying to emulate the work of people in factories as I had seen it and because of its spontaneous nature it gives the paintings a different feel,” he said.

If the canvases and many other scrawled sketches capture the essence of folklore in mystical inimitable ways then the “ink on paper” contains his many artistic musings and memoirs of his past.

“Sometimes when I am in a library or a coffee shop or travelling by plane I just sketch whatever I see or whatever comes in my mind. Many of them have been lost but some of them have survived and those are the ones you can see,” Burman said.

Amidst the eclectic flow of emotions that enamour your senses in an alien fervour one cannot help but notice the flow of time within the collection stretching a timespan of over 50 years.

Born to an elite family in Bidyakut (now part of Bangladesh), Burman’s earliest influences remained the convivial environment in which he had been raised but it was his later travels to Europe and then his return to India that moulded his sensibilities to perfection and provided him with that unique creative spirit.

“I came to Paris in 1956 and enrolled as a student at the Ecole Nationale Superiure des Beaux-Arts. I was keen to learn everything about the fascinating vista of the world of art that opened up for me in Paris,” Burman said.

So far as inspirations go Burman had initially been moved by the work of European greats but several years hence “I now find it within myself.”

“If you do something for a very long time then you no longer have to be influenced by others so you can say that I am my own inspiration now,” he said.

“I couldn’t forget my Indian roots and at the same time I was fascinated by Matisse and Bonnard, especially their interiors. I also picked up a little from Italian renaissance masters such as Masaccio, Giotto and Piero Della Francesca — their murals and frescos gave me an idea,” said Burman.

Burman’s collection at the private gallery is a part of a much larger one, some of which are on display at the Victoria memorial Hall and the paintings at Reena Lath’s Akar Prakar shall remain there till the 24th of April.

“Reena has been discussing a show of my works in Kolkata for some time now. Since all my works couldn’t be accommodated in the Victoria Memorial Hall, I decided to showcase my pastels and drawings in Reena’s private gallery, Akar Prakar. These include my early drawings from 50s to now,” Burman said.

(Reporting by Arnab Chakraborty)

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