Maya Burman’s solo show

Maya Burman, the daughter of the well-known painter Sakti Burman, is showcasing her work at the Apparao gallery, Chennai.

What strikes the most about her paintings in watercolor and pen is the detailing in them. Repetitive design motifs - the elements of foliage and birds - merge into each other and almost envelope the subject matter. Maya Burman's colorful paintings with an ethereal quality rely on fine details.

Her paintings have a tapestry like effect where everything is subordinate to patterning. Her figures have an archetypal aura about them. Her paintings are immersed in a mood of lyricism and allegory. Often the atmosphere is that of deep melancholia. The painter inhabits a world of fantasy and allegory.

She comes from a family of painters who have displayed their stunning work at prestigious galleries in India and internationally over last several decades in solo as well group shows. During Maya Burman's childhood, paintings and colors formed an integral part of her life as she used to see her parents painting all the time. Sakti Burman, Jayasri Burman, Maya Burman, and Maite Delteil all share a deep almost spiritual commitment to their painting. Maya Burman describes it as the force, which gives her life its rhythm and dynamics.

'I always saw my parents painting. Our sensibility is close. Our personal mythology is also similar. We always have discussions about our work and I learned a lot about my work like through these discussions, ' she had stated in an interview. If work of painter Sakti Burman attempts to recreate, reflect and represent an enchanted world where the memory of the real, fantasy and legend have a direct relation to the present, the imagery in Jayasri Burman's work has a dream-like and lyrical quality with a unique sensitivity which, although inspired by the Indian folk element. 'I never try to identify myself with what my parents are doing, we have similar sensibilities as in the use of color and allegory, but I have my own style,' Maya Burman quips.

Her subject matter is a veritable line of characters that come traipsing out of a child's imagination, stimulated at that precious twilight reading hour between wakefulness and sleep. Her work draws inspiration from day-to-day life and by what the artist notices around her. It is the composition that matters to the artist. The artist tries to make it aesthetical and meaningful.

Her technique is a slow step-by-step process of accumulation of marks. She makes a pencil sketch first, then applies the layer of watercolors and finishes the outlines and detail in black ink with a pen. What seem like patterns inscribed on color take shape to emerge as detailed figures. The artist spends a lot of time on each of her works. She enjoys every bit and every moment of the process of painting. 'I can't say that there were significant changes in my work in those years. But this is a day-to-day learning and practicing which is adding to the quality of the work,' she has been quoted as saying.

The precision to the rendering can be perhaps traced to her being trained as an architect, which contrasts nicely with the ambiguities of the themes that she handles. In fact, architecture was her first step toward painting. While studying architecture she began drawing with ink and pen, and thus got familiarized with the medium. Once she took up painting, she stopped her studies in architecture and stayed in India for few years. When she returned France, she decided to take up painting full-time.

Despite being based in Paris, her roots are Indian. When once asked if her work also reflects this cross-cultural heritage, her reply was: 'I am a product of a cross-cultural meeting. So are my paintings. But I don't want it to be the illustration of my European or Indian background. I prefer to think that it is universal.'

About her philosophy as painter, she has this to say: 'have no statement to make about philosophy. My philosophy is very personal. The same goes with my painting. It has nothing to do with a theory. It is like a part of my life I'm giving like a gift to people who want to share it. My first concern as an artist is to be able to continue painting. Then if I can share that passion, create vocation, this is good. But I cannot say that I want to spread any message through my painting. I only want to communicate joy.' For the celebrated artist, painting remains the core of her life, her emotions and her pains, which find an expression through her work.

Solo exhibition of the works of painter Maya Burman is on at Apparao Galleries till the last week of August.

View Maya Burman's catalogue

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