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Most of Shakti Burman's paintings carry a self image of the painter himself; a face devoid of any moustache but covered with beard. It is a carefully adopted style statement of the artist which makes him distinctly different from others. Style is today an integral part of the art world. Artists like Paresh Maity (with a beret cap, glasses and beard), Sunil Das (with a burning cigarette during photo-shoots) and Devajyoti Ray (always with a golf cap),  realize the importance of specific style statements in an increasingly effusive world.

But this was not so always. Most artists of earlier eras could be divided plainly into two categories: 'clean-shaven' and 'not shaven'. Contrary to popular belief artists of the former group had always been numerically preponderous. Some of the clean shaven great artists of Bengal had been Abanindranath Tagore, Sailoz Mukherjee, Abani Sen, Gopal Ghosh, Paritosh Bhattacharya, Zainul Abedin, Ramkinkar Baiz (when he was sober), Bikash Bhattacharya, Ganesh Paine, Sunil Das , etc. If one would like to add the women artists then this group is likely to become even larger.

Abanindranath Tagore: the father of modern Indian art


Compared to the above group, the not-shaven artists had always been lesser in number. some of them includes Rabindranath TagoreProkash Karmakar and Shuvaprasanna.

The group of artists with only moustaches had been the smallest. among the modern greats it includes only Jogen Choudhuri




     Shakti Burman, father of Maya Burman, uncle of Jayashree Burman and related to Paresh Maiti was born in 1935. In terms of age, he is a contemporary of other Bengal masters of our age Bikash Bhattacharya and Ganesh Paine. Yet Burman had never been a part of the Calcuttaís art movement and rather developed his style away from the influence of all; in Paris.


         After a long stay in Europe, Burman returned to India to take on Indian subjects with his European learning. But he was not initially much appreciated by the Indian Art lovers. He was rather more popular in Europe. It is in only recent past that Burmanís paintings received acclaim in India. 

         Burmanís works are a kind of mixture of the Indian past , of his European learning mixed with a good dose of his own life. He draws his subjects, metaphors, etc all from the cave paintings, the great monuments, etc which serve as the historical reference in his paintings. To give his works a look of old un-restored frescoes, he uses a very special technique, the result of which is that his works look more like large detailed tapestries.

                  painting of Shakti Burman

Typical Shakti Burman paintings like the one in the left shows emporer Akbar juxtaposed against the Taj Mahal with paintings of nude women from European masterpieces. On right another of his work with own self -portrait

                  self portait of Shakti Barman


Medium and Techniques of Work

       Burmanís works are mostly in oil and mixed media with oil as the basic medium. The paintings show two dimensional features painted in detail that looks like tapestry.

Major Themes

        Burmanís own self image, images of people he has known and people from history books all come together in Burmanís paintings against the backdrop of historical monuments and mythical figures.






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