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Lila is around us

After four years, artist Jayasri Burman is back in Mumbai with her solo exhibition, Lila, that will showcase over 35 paintings and sculptures. The artworks are derived from Hindu mythology and are inspired by Indian Folk art. Excerpts from an interview 

Q. Tell us about your latest exhibition, Lila, and the themes you’ve explored through it.
A. Lila has been on my mind since the last four years. I love reading and referring to the Ramayana and finding its characters in everyday life.

Bronze sculpture Shringar
Bronze sculpture Shringar

This series has been about that representation — of associating the celebrated myth in each moment. Lila is a page of a play where Krishna is the director who makes all his artistes and actors — Shiv, Parvati, Hanuman, Ganesh — perform to the tune of his flute. I have indulged in this freedom of fantasy and given this concept a narrative of my own. Hence, I have chosen the title of Lila. The recurring themes are of the figure of the mother, family and love.

Lila, watercolour, pen and ink on paper
Lila, watercolour, pen and ink on paper

Q. What was the inspiration behind the artworks?
A. Look around, and you will find that today’s world is electronically compact and accessible, yet distant. The intimacy of yesteryears is lost. However, when you enter an electronics shop, you will find a Ganesha by the cash box; when you sit inside a new car, Ganesha greets you again from the dashboard; and while you drive down the highway in your AC-car, you spot Hanuman painted on the back of many trucks. This presence of the gods in our life, not just as cultural commodities but as objects of our faith and devotion, is the highlight of Lila.

Sanjivani, watercolour, pen and ink on paper
Sanjivani, watercolour, pen and ink on paper

Indian mythology and folklore is also abundant with chapters that speak of the happiness of love and the joy of togetherness. I believe in this intimacy, whether in friendship or family. I find such a similarity in Shiv, Parvati and Hanuman. In terms of art, Durga, in various manifestations, has evolved often on my canvas, as has Shiva. I have also found profound peace in depicting the Buddha.

Lakshmi, watercolour and ink on paper
Lakshmi, watercolour and ink on paper

The term ‘Lila’ here does not exactly translate to illusion. At the most, it is a magical, believable fantasy. We are a part of it, and should embrace it.

Jayasri Burman
Jayasri Burman

Q. Tell us a bit about how you got interested in art.
A. The memory of my upbringing includes my father waking me up in the morning, taking me in his arms and chanting slokas. These chants, and the melody in their rhythm, the moral in their meaning, have stayed on with me. I grew up with these and the great Indian epics: Ramayana and Mahabharata, and with family elders putting us to sleep with local Folk tales. It was a daily cycle that led to the creation of my own world of imagination. These narratives taught me about daily living, and not just about being a ‘hero’ in a battle. My world comprised the mythological characters, each endowed with certain life values. It has been fascinating interacting with the myths in my own way.

Till November 30 
At Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda, Fort. call 22843989
From December 1 to 31
At Art Musings, 1 Admiralty Building, Colaba Cross Lane. 
Call 22163339

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