Call them dream-like settings, or a world of fantasy, France-based artist Maya Burman’s paintings defies any number of single-word definitions. At her ongoing exhibition ‘Fantasy Frolic Fun’, organised by Leela Palace and Apparao Galleries, Maya presents the bottomless world of dream and fantasy etched in lurid colours.
However, the artist says she herself is surprised as she wonders where the fantasy and magical elements creep in. “You can see fantasy in my work because of the bright colours that are prominent, or the subjects that are joyful. But it is still a mystery for me because I see myself as a never-ending anxious person. I think I jump into that dream-like word to fill my life with more sweetness. I would say that it is more like a nostalgic image from a lost paradise. In today’s society, I believe there is no chance that this could be the image of an ideal future.
Maya says while the show is not threaded by a single subject, it is often the transparency of emotions that them all. “My paintings are first of all compositions and volumes. I don’t work with a special thematic. As I build my composition, the subjects appear. Stone by stone I build up scenes of the intimate life. Some of them are more dreamlike. The mediums I use most of the time –water colour, colour pencil and ink—are very transparent. They are like a mirror for emotions. You can neither change it nor hide it,” she says.
As she showcases her work in Chennai after 10 years, Maya, who regularly has her exhibition in other cities in India like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, says that she is content with limited art work.
A regular at the Indian art fair, Maya says that she is happy to see artists going through all that it takes to keep the art going. “During the Indian Art Fair, I get a larger view of Indian art. I’m glad that artists are still painting or sculpting. They haven’t gone yet too much into all those conceptual things that sound more like discussions at a cafe. It is beautiful when art is a vector for emotions,” Maya adds.
Born into a family of artists, Maya was ordained to follow in the footsteps of her father Shakti Burman and her mother Maite Delteil. But Maya believes that it was not the lineage which influenced her to wield the brush and that it was a journey of discovering her space in the world of art. “My first step was neither natural nor forced. Of course, in my family, I was always surrounded by strong artistic influences. But becoming an artist was a long and personal process that I had to undertake alone. Apart from the technical point of view, I had to find my inner sensitivity and my own place,” she says.
From tribal art to European paintings, Maya has a long list of artistic influences—each leaving an indelible mark on her sensibilities as an artist. “We are building up our language with what we see. I have seen more of European classical paintings. But I have also been influenced by the intricate Indian sculpture and the naive representation in tribal art. Creation is a life-long process of learning. It forces you to become modest. I love the traditional art form. I’m back from Romania, where it was delightful to see all the traditional patterns. For my work in oil painting, I look at the painting of Ingre and Velasques with delight. Even if I don’t express myself like them, I learn a lot from their work,” she says.
‘Fantasy Frolic Fun’ is on at The Leela Galleria at The Leela Palace, Adyar Seaface, MRC Nagar. For details, call 9941012386.