Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Portfolio: Chila Kumari Burman


Portfolio: Chila Kumari Burman

A Scouser and a Desi. A Hindu Punjabi. Chila Kumari Burman, who grew up helping her dad with his ice cream van on Freshfields Beach, went on to become one of the first British South Asian women to study at the Slade. Her work – which she describes as challenging the notion of the Asian woman caught between two cultures, instead envisioning herself as beyond two cultures – is now held by the likes of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate and Richard Branson.

Among her influences, Burman lists Bollywood, Dada and Surrealism, Hindu philosophy, Indian comics, popular culture and her mum. She works a lot with prints, layering and relayering, printing and reprinting. Texture is unimportant; the focus is on colour. The initial image becomes a blur. Burman likes to work with “girlie junk” – bindis, make-up, hair accessories, flowers, buttons and beads – as well as pictures of Bollywood stars and Hindu goddesses. Words are superimposed from sources as diverse as an erotic fridge magnet set and the New Internationalist.

Sexuality and forms of female sexual desire are intrinsic to Burman’s work, all of which might be seen as a series of self-portraits, even the larger-than-life ice cream cones sculptures. Everywhere there is plenty of glitter and sparkle – and there couldn’t really be a better reflection of the artist’s effervescent personality. One grinning black and white photograph of a young Burman is scribbled over with the thought bubble: “Gonna be an artist, y’know?” Well, girl, you certainly made it!

My Rangila Merry-go-round
Embrace Arts, Richard Attenborough Centre,
Lancaster Road, Leicester, LE1 7HA
20 February – 19 April 2015

To see the full portfolio and enjoy the images, please see the April 2015 print issue of DIVA magazine 

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