Sakti Burman, his wife Maite Delteil and daughter Maya exhibit their work together

An exhibition of paintings by the Burman family, including oils and watercolors by Sakti Burman, his daughter Maya Burman's recent works and wife Maite Delteil Burman's oils has drawn curious visitors to Art Musings in Coloba, South Mumbai.

Widely known for his dream-like imagery, Sakti Burman portrays a pleasant, dream-like world, where the perspective and composition is often that of medieval icons. No surprise, he terms himself an optimist. On Burman's canvas, one sees mythical creatures that tell ancient tales of courtly romances. They bring alive an enchanting world - a lost paradise, where all creatures dwell in harmony. His paintings evoke the look of a weathered fresco, depicting figures in hues that the viewer feels were once vivid, but that are now faded. He uses a marbling effect, achieved by blending oils with acrylics, and employs pointillism to apply paint. He mixes oil colors with water. Some of his works also appear to be using the technique of pointillism.

Born in Kolkata, in 1936, Sakti Burman graduated from the Calcutta College of Art and Crafts in 1956. He studied at L'Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts in Paris; he visited Italy frequently and was inspired by the frescoes and paintings of the Renaissance period. His works have been exhibited at the Grand Palais, Paris (1975, 1994) and the French Biennales (1963, 1965 & 1967). His works have been shown in museums in France including the Musee de Blois. the Musee de Villeneuve-sur-Lot, the Musee Denon and the Chalon-sur-Rhone. His works were exhibited at the Pundole Art Gallery (December 2001) and with Saffronart, Los Angeles (2001 ) & New York (2001 &2002).

Sakti Burman continues to be inspired by both his present and past environments - France and his childhood days in Bengal. As he once stated: "Through my works I return to my native roots, to my childhood and that transitory world of innocence." He moved to Paris in his early 20s, settled there, and married a French woman. He says, "My wife is French and I buy baguette. But I can't forget my childhood either."

His wife Maite Delteil has made a vital contribution to his artistic journey. The book Dreamer On The Ark written by Kolkata-based art critic Manasij Majumder launched on the eve of his solo show at Pundole Art Gallery in November 2001, covered every aspect of Burman, from his childhood to his family, career and the present. And there are references to the artistic capabilities of Maite Delteil Burman in the book.

Recent works of daughter Maya Burman are also on view at the Art Musings. The striking thing about her paintings either watercolor or pen is the detailing in them. They have a tapestry like effect where everything is subordinate to patterning, reminiscent of the French art nouveau tradition. The figures have an archetypal aura about them.

With her deft Rotring ink pen strokes, she portrays an intriguing world of fantasy. The landscape is a primitive Eden. It's a world where real life meets fairy-tale format. For Maya Burman, her paintings are "a picture of my soul and this is my alternate universe." She was once quoted as saying: "Because of my parents, I was exposed to art so much that I decided I would never paint. I thought about joining the army, then I took to architecture." Though figurative in style, her paintings allow the viewer to build a story according to one's own imagination. They are not narrative of any particular story or event, and they often spring from daily life, in spite of the treatment being like an event from a fairy tale. She paints in different stages. After a rough pencil sketch comes the colored ink wash. Then the watercolors are added and finally the outlines and other minute details in black are done with a fine rotring pen. Black is important for her, as it makes the other colors, which are generally used in a mild coating, stand out.

Maya Burman did not receive any formal training in painting nor did her parents give her any particular guidance. But watching them at work, painting seemed to come naturally to her. A healthy discussion with them about her work has been a regular practice. When asked about the influence her parents had on her, she remarks: "I have seen my parents' paintings, but what I paint is my own. Our thinking may be similar, but our expressions are different. Of course, people may find some similarities; it is only natural since, after all, I have been with him all my life. In fact, sometimes, after I have finished a painting, my father begins a work, which begins to resemble my work. But when my mother sees both, she knows that my work came first. The underlying mental communication might be the cause for this."

Maite Delteil Burman's oils are also on display alongside. The couple was recently featured in Addachakra, the popular chat show on ETV Bangla shot in London. Sakti and his painter-wife Maite Delteil were there singing Elem notun deshe, one of Tagore songs. The Burmans have combined again for this exhibition. The show continues till June 9, 2003.

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