Rêve de Maya (Maya's Dream)

Rêve de Maya (Maya's Dream)
signed 'SAKTI BURMAN' (lower center); further titled 'Rêve de Maya' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
31 ¾ x 39 ¼ in. (80.6 x 99.7 cm.)
Painted in 1982
Private Collection, France
Magnin Wedry, 21 April 2023, lot 139
Acquired from the above
S. Burman et al, Sakti Burman, Fumel, 1984, p. 54 (illustrated)
M. Majumder, Sakti Burman, Dreamer on the Ark, Mumbai, 2001, p. 75 (illustrated)

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Lot Essay

After graduating from the Government College of Art and Craft in Calcutta, Sakti Burman moved to Paris in 1956 to attend Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts. His subsequent explorations of Europe and the art he saw on his travels across the continent greatly influenced the creation of his own unique artistic idiom. Burman’s fresco-like paintings and textured surfaces are reminiscent of the frescoes of Giotto, Piero de la Francesca and Simone Martini, as well as the cave paintings at Ajanta.

The subjects of Burman’s marbled paintings were frequently drawn from his own family alongside a host of Indian and European mythological and literary sources, integrated with the formal and stylistic values he gained in Europe. In the present lot, titled Maya’s Dream, Maya could refer either to the artist’s own daughter or to Queen Maya, the mother of Buddha Shakyamuni. Before the birth of the Buddha, Queen Maya was said to have dreamt of a white elephant who entered her womb. When depicted in classical sculpture, Queen Maya reclines on a bed with an elephant hovering above her. In the present lot, Burman also paints an elephant hovering over a reclining figure we can assume to be Maya.

The exterior space is whimsical in its ambiguity. While Maya dreams in one room of a house, we see many other characters, both human and animal, occupying its other spaces. Perhaps part of her dream, the elephant is joined by a band of musicians, a hoopoe, an owl, three other women, perhaps attendants, and a verdant tree of life. Referred to as an ‘alchemist of dreams’, Burman offers his viewers a window into the realm of fantasy through paintings like the present lot. In portraying the various characters of Maya’s dream, Burman elevates the everyday to the mythical in this tableau-like painting, creating a world suspended between the spheres of allegory and reality.

“Sakti Burman’s spirit is one in which poetical and interior meditation, harmonies of sounds and his dreams and reflections mingle together and form an image full of color, fantasy, designs, variety, fragments of stories and at the same time, an invitation to silent, discreet and joyous contemplation of the realities” (I Pel. Luc Calvero, Sakti Burman, Fumel, 1984).

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