Sakti Burman, Musicians Dancing, oil on canvas, 81 x 66 cms, 2023

Reverie & Fantasia
Group Exhibition
29th November 2023

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Art Musings presents a rare treat for art lovers in the city of Mumbai, with their next exhibition ‘Reverie & Fantasia’, a group exhibition featuring the family of Indian master Sakti Burman, his illustrious wife Maïté Delteil and their daughter Maya Burman.

At the core of each of their practices is the confluence among cultures, mythologies, periods, and places. As they shuttle between societies and cultures, articulating in their work all the legacies they have inherited, the artists give themselves the freedom to select materials from the archive of global culture. Various Indian and European pasts inhabit their art, drawing from mythology, the Mughal miniature ateliers, from Kalighat as well as West European art history and Bengali popular culture.

Art historian and cultural theorist Ranjit Hoskote has written extensively about the works of all three artists. To quote from some of his texts from various books and catalogues with Art Musings,

“To enter Sakti Burman’s landscapes and tableaux, is to submit to the measures of a dance that takes us deeper, not only into the recesses of a possibly shared mythic consciousness, but also into the complexity of the artist’s particular life – in the space of excitement, exhilaration, anxiety and epiphany between two cultures. Burman’s art is resonant with the metaphor of the actor, the theatre, the masque. We are in the landscape of lila, where everyone plays a significant part and no detail is irrelevant. Burman the storyteller reinvigorates our imagination by reminding us we are not simply made of muscle, nerve and bone. We are also made up of the words and images, the poems and stories we inherit from countless previous generations.

When we stand in the presence of Maïté Delteil’s art, we recognise instantly that, at its core, there lie the regenerative powers of the garden, the orchard, the meadow, the pasture, and the forest. No matter what the scale of her paintings, each frame breathes the life force of an earth that has been tilled and harrowed, tended and nurtured, or protected from intervention. In her vibrant images, we encounter earth as it has been cultivated or left to its own ebullient devices; we hear the voices of the natural world here, with the wind blowing through branches and the choric intimations of birdsong. Delteil’s attentiveness to detail is a form of devotion: her paintings  are songs of praise,  in which she  exalts  the beauty  of things  even  as  they pass into decay  and  dissolution,  as creatures of time.

Maya Burman’s watercolour and pen and-ink works are peopled by pneumatic figures, usually depicted in moments of play, festivity or ceremonial, expressive of an abundant joie de vivre or what, in the Indic tradition, would be celebrated as lila, the cosmic spirit of play and creativity. Drawing on diverse genealogies, among them Degas’ ballerinas and folk and classical dancers of eastern India. Maya portrays her protagonists in postures of heightened play: leisure as a form of gracefully slowed down athleticism, expressing itself through a finesse of gesture in a pictorial space that appears to have been shaped as textile, as tapestry. The artist’s immersion in the European and Indic civilisations manifests itself, as does her lifelong exposure to the history of art, through the details of her work.”

Satish Gujral, Untitled, acrylic on canvas, 60'' x 60'', 2016

Various Artist
November 2023

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Art Musings presents a group show ‘MELT’ featuring acclaimed artists SH Raza, KG Subramanyan, Satish Gujral, Ganesh Haloi, GR Iranna, Laxma Goud, Gopikrishna, Suneel Mamadapur, Raghava KK, Shilo Shiv Suleman, Jayasri Burman, Smriti Dixit, which opens on November 23.

Art is defined in many ways, but essentially it captures the essence of a subject that the artist chooses to deliberate upon. MELT, which features cross-generational artists, draws our attention to how artists have used nature as an inspiration or as a motif. Beyond capturing its tangible beauty, observation of the natural world has lent itself to examining a broad spectrum of subjects that concern metaphysics, spirituality, the personal, the behavioural, or the societal.

The iconography the artists hone is indicative of what aspects of nature have inspired their thought processes. SH Raza’s Bindu paintings are contemplations on the beginnings of life, the cycle of life and death and the concept of time and space. Ganesh Haloi paints abstract landscapes that articulate the experiences of the human mind. The physical terrain is a trope to depict a psychological space. The melodies in nature, in poetry and manmade music inform Satish Gujral’s works. His art answers the question of what it is like to hear with your eyes.

The motif that recurs in KG Subramanyan’s art is still life with a flower vase inside a lived space. This contrasts with a work from an earlier period, which depicts a cluster of windswept trees under the open sky in a forest. Could they represent opposite psychological states of the mind – perhaps calm and troubled, safe and insecure? Laxma Goud also uses trees as motifs alongside animal and human figures. His etchings bristle with raw sexuality, a natural condition of living beings. GR Iranna uses the motif of trees in full bloom to address issues that are social and political, moral and spiritual.

The depiction of flora is recurrently used to tackle the ideas of germination and femininity, as can be seen in the stylised visual languages of Jayasri Burman and Shilo Shiv Suleman. Smriti Dixit tackles these concepts in an abstract language with artworks that are made of woven fabric and emphasise tactile textures.

We see a dissimilarity in the visuals and the idioms used by contemporary artists such as Gopikrishna and Suneel Mamadapur, even though the references to nature are visible. Their zoo-anthropomorphic iconography is fabulist and absurd, which addresses the issues of the human condition. Treading on the sci-fi genre, Raghava KK’s other-worldly, futuristic portrayals are an examination of the conflicts between the natural world, science, technology and human nature.