Sakti Burman, a distinguished contemporary Indian artist, has explored various facets of the art world, gaining acclaim as both a sculptor and lithographer. Born in Kolkata in 1935, February 8 marks his 89th birthday. His artistic journey began with childhood inspiration drawn from the painted backdrops of theatrical productions and exposure to landscape art. Despite his father’s initial resistance, Burman pursued his passion for art and enrolled at the Government School of Art in 1951 to study Fine Arts. He held his first solo exhibition in Kolkata in 1954 and subsequently moved to Paris to study at Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, in 1956. Not only was he awarded the prestigious Prix des Etrangers by the institution, he also found some of his most enduring inspirations in European artists such as Van Gogh.
Surreal Masterpieces and Marbling Technique:
Burman’s body of work is characterised by surreal pieces featuring vibrant colours. Employing pointillism and a marbling effect achieved through the blending of acrylics and oil paints, he creates artworks that, while primarily on canvas and paper, exude a fresco-like quality. This technique was influenced by his 1958 visit to Italy, where he encountered awe-inspiring frescoes by Piero della Francesca, Giotto, and Simone Martini, influencing the texture and scale of his later creations. His signature marbling technique was accidentally discovered when water spilled on an oil on canvas creation, creating a rippling effect that became a defining element in his career.
Mythological Themes and Personal Memories:
European and Hindu mythologies, as well as personal memories, serve as significant inspirations for Burman. Reflecting his migrant experiences, his canvases blend Western and Indian influences, resulting in a unique visual language synonymous with his name. His artworks portray animals, people, objects, and surroundings suspended in time, possessing an ethereal quality. Recurring motifs include an interpretation of his son Nobu, often depicted with a conch shell on his head. Often hailed as an ‘Alchemist of Dreams,’ Sakti Burman’s creations transport viewers into a realm of fantasy, a dream-like universe inhabited by strange fantastical figures amid lush settings. Bridging the realms of myth and reality, his art fuses empirical experiences with imagination, characterised by vivid and faded hues that evoke a sense of mythical pantomime theatre, where spellbound characters resemble angels, goddesses, harlequins, and dryads.
Global Recognition and Exhibition History:
Burman’s extensive exhibition history spans the globe, with shows in New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, New York, London, and Paris, among others. He has also participated in multiple French Biennales in the years 1963, 1965, and 1967. The artist is also the recipient of the Médaille d’Argent au Salon de Montmorency.
Ankita Talreja is Associate Vice President at AstaGuru Auction House