JAYASRI BURMAN –the woman behind mythical canvas


jayasri bruman

It is not every day that you see a simple canvas reflecting ordinary beings, transform into contours of sheer grandeur and divinity under the tip of a brush. Artist JayasriBurman’sbrush stroke over the years has metamorphosed into works that project ordinary men and women with heroic characters raised to the level of Gods and Goddesses often surrounded by hybrid creatures. Simple characters like a mother nurturing a child or a girl trying to find her identity, are often bestowed with wings to fly or fins to swim in Jayasri’s work, redefining their freedom, desire, and strength. Perhaps, she sees in ordinary people an extraordinary ability to evolve and flourish.


Born in the city of Joy, Kolkata, her early life was soaked in festivities, colors, and spirituality. It is no surprise that her artwork celebrates the feminism and womanhood likened to the female mythical characters of Indian legends often worshipped in the form of Goddess Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Every so often, she picks a central character, usually a woman and weaves a story around her with crossed creatures flying, floating or just standing around, transcending the possibilities in Life science. Her art speaks the language of her imagination with subtle surprises, sometimes by the presence of a swan, mermaid, pigeon, parrot etc. Her desire to be free and nomadic as these birds or animals makes her canvas and sculpture invariably fabled and enchanting. As a child, she was always inclined towards writing and poetry, but she also knew that she was destined to be an artist as she was often inspired by her famous uncle and artist Sakti Burman, a contemporary Indian artist living in France. The enigma in her work is a powerful souvenir of her metier and personage.


But her art was not always this mystic as today, one can find a distinct transformation in her work of art from late 20th to early 21st century. Having completed her education from Kala Bhavan, Shantiniketan and Visual College of Art, Kolkata, she went to learn printmaking in Paris under the guidance of Monsieur Ceizerzi. Initially, she started painting an impressionist style with pen and ink, but later she used various media and techniques including etching, printmaking, and sculpting. Many of her early works captured the many parts of India and its people, which were reminiscent of her new-found vocation for travel back to 1990s. Being a budding artist, she was trying to create her identity through her innocent, yet delightful paintings, which earned her a lot of appreciation. Her earlier canvasses echoed her simplicity as an artist, but as her art transformed under her brush, so did her persona as an individual. As her ability to create flawless paintings evolved, her canvases became more intricate and bold, each image reverberating feminism and strength through larger than life characters.


According to the artist, her love for travel gives her inspiration to paint and her prayers give her strength to keep doing her work with honesty. However, like a child seeking refuge in her mother’s anchal, she found solace in painting what she believed in and not what the world demanded. she always comes back to the epics and fables she has grown up with. Her art mirrors her inner self, nostalgia, touched antiquities, perceptions, and aspirations. Despite facing several personal tragedies, she believes in smiling and spreading the smile. Her motto is to disseminate love, peace, and harmony through her paintings and bring people closer to nature. According to her, we are so accustomed to living in this ‘concrete jungle’ that we have forgotten the real beauty of nature and therefore the many natural elements in her canvases remind us of our roots.


She is conferred with many awards including the National Award by Govt. of India in 1985 for her graphics. In 1987 her works were featured in International Triennale in Germany, during the same year she received a certificate of merit from All India Youth Art Exhibition. She has exhibited her work extensively, solo and joint across the length and breadth of India and the globe. Despite being an artist with immense accomplishments, she never stops her desire to learn and create ebullient images with her unique brushstrokes or lifelike sculptures with her tools. Being an indefatigable creator of bold and beautiful fairy-tale art and being a female protagonist in the male dominant profession, Jayasri sets an example and continues to inspire a generation of artists to come.