In the Presence of Another Sky: Sakti Burman, A Retrospective. Curated by Ranjit Hoskote on 17 October – 27 November 2017

National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai & Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India, supported by Art Musings presents ‘In the Presence of Another Sky: Sakti Burman, A Retrospective’, a survey of the distinguished artist Sakti Burman’s work across nearly six decades. This retrospective exhibition is curated by poet and cultural theorist Ranjit Hoskote. It situates Sakti Burman’s practice in its historical contexts – as much within an evolving Indian modern as within the European lineage of the modern.

Hoskote’s curatorial reading emphasises Burman’s affinities with a spectrum of artistic reference points, ranging from Pompeii murals to Dubuffet to illuminated manuscripts and miniatures. The exhibition will map Burman’s practice across the diverse artistic engagements that have characterised his journey: this includes his memorable contributions to engraving, the art of the book, drawing, sculpture, and painting in various media. ‘In the Presence of Another Sky’ will also celebrate the role of travel, of encounters with varied cultures, in the shaping of Burman’s art and world-view. At the same time, the exhibition will attend to the historical events that have left their imprint on the artist’s consciousness: the plural legacies of the School of Paris, World War II, the Partition and Independence, the Cold War, globalisation, and the post-globalisation world of simultaneously expanded and embattled possibilities.

Director NGMA, Mr Shivaprasad Khened speaks of the upcoming retrospective: “On the 70th anniversary of India’s independence, it is a privilege and honour for the NGMA Mumbai to be hosting an exhibition of an artist who was witness to India’s Independence. This exhibition – In the Presence of Another Sky: Sakti Burman, A Retrospective – is a tribute to all those who were witness to India’s historic Independence and to the most unfortunate trauma that followed during the partition of the country into two nations, when millions of migrants crossed across the divided nations of India and East Pakistan.”

Hoskote writes: “In the poet Walt Whitman’s memorable phrase, invented to describe an individual who inherits diverse histories and temperaments while extending himself imaginatively in plural directions, Burman “contains multitudes”. In their elegant fusion of time horizons, Burman’s works remind us that the global contemporary is, above all, a time and place of complex allegiances. We are all entangled in multiple definitions of self, linked by heredity, affinity and choice to various sources of cultural meaning. In such a situation, the artist cannot be pinned down to a specific, narrowly regional definition of selfhood. The artist’s imagination is a receiving and transmitting station, and signals come to it from every quarter; the artist’s project is to sift through these, in order to process the code into fresh and ever-renewed manifestations of his understanding of his lifeworld.”

The exhibition will open on 18 October 2017 and ends on 27 November 2017. Several outreach programs are planned during the duration of the exhibition including walks with the curator, a poetry reading and a book release.

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