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Sakti Burman

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1935, Kolkata, India
Lives and works in Paris

A contemporary artist, often described as ?lchemist of Dreams? Sakti Burman creates a fantasy world on his canvas by diffusing the Eastern and Western idioms. Though he works in several mediums, the hallmark of his works is a unique marbling technique combined with pointillism and fresco-like textures. The soothing hues of primary colours on his canvas transport one into a dream-like world.

Education

1956

Government College of Arts and Crafts, Kolkata, India

1956

Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts, Paris

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LIFE AND WORK

UNDERSTANDING Sakti Burman

Burman's often described as 'Alchemist of Dreams'

Sakti Burman’s imagery is steeped in romanticism and fantasy. With his cultural roots in India and his exposure to the French and western world, he has been able to blend the Eastern and Western idioms with such ease. One can notice the diffusive mix of the Italian fresco tradition and the classical Ajanta cave murals in India in his paintings. A fusion of reality and imagination, his works are portrayal of his childhood fantasies, where flowers, trees, birds, and mythical characters co-exist in perfect harmony.

With soothing colours, rich textures and detail, he creates a sense of tranquility in his art.  The artist holds out a dream world of harmony away from today’s world of conflict and violence.

Sakti Burman, Memory of the Time, 2002, oil on canvas, 56.5 x 44”

He discovered a unique marbling technique by blending oil with acrylic

Sakti Burman has a rich repertoire of mediums with which he creates his stunning dream-like artworks. He started his artistic journey with mediums including water colours, oils, pastels, and pen & ink drawings. In the mid 1960s he discovered an unusual effect with water colours quite by accident and from there he took it further by creating marbling effect by blending oil and acrylic paint. This unique technique combined with pointillism and the pealing effect picked up from the frescoes of Ajanta caves became the hallmark of his works.

Burman is also fond of creating bronze sculptures of human beings, sometimes combining humans with animals and birds.

Sakti Burman, Le Dresseur de Lions, oil on canvas, 23.5 x 17.5”

Primary colours with lighter hues are noticeable in his paintings

Burman's multicoloured worlds bring together memories from the artist's childhood with more recent experiences, including a second childhood he lives vicariously through his grandchildren. Though he uses other colours, his liberal use of primary colours - red, blue and yellow is quite evident in his paintings.

Earlier, Burman depended on heavy coats and darker shades of colour. But as he evolved as an artist, his colour schemes and preferences went through a remarkable change. He realized the beneficial impact of a lighter hue even in the use of primary colours. The use of ‘white’ as the ground colour also gradually changed to a soft yellow colour.

Sakti Burman, Untitled, watercolour on paper, 19 x 25”

He paints characters from fantasy and mythology

Most of the characters seem to be floating around in his paintings; the scale does not seem to matter. The importance of the character often determines its size within a frame. This is evident quite effectively in his painting titled ‘Song for the Lost Dreams’.

In this painting Burman’s dominant preoccupation with characters from fantasy and mythology is quite noticeable. We can see Mahatma Gandhi’s compassionate figure is several times larger than any of the other characters placed around him such as Goddess Durga slaying the demon, Lord Hanuman in flight, a nobleman and a common man from India juxtaposed with a gentleman from Europe, a soldier and gunners in the foreground punctuated by a folk musician from Rajasthan. Overall, this work encompasses a dream-like quality.

Sakti Burman, Song for the lost dreams, 2011, oil on canvas, 146 x 114 cm

He depicts ancient tales through his fine imagery

In Burman’s works, one can find mythical creatures that tell ancient tales where all creatures dwell in harmony and peace. One can find the influences of European art in his traditional painting skills.

In 1992, Sakti Burman created a vibrant oil painting ‘Dreamers on the Ark’ depicting the Noah’s Arc from the Biblical stories. When after a few years he revisited the theme, he created oil on canvas ‘IdolImmotal’ in which along with the Noah’s Arc he portrayed Goddess Durga and other characters creating an exceptional blend of eastern and western traditions.

Sakti Burman, Dreamer of the Ark, 1992, oil on canvas