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Artist Jayasri Burman paints the ‘resilient’ Ganga

The ongoing exhibition is a result of years of research and her observations of the Ganga at the numerous places it flows, from Banaras to Hrishikesh.

river Ganga, artist Jayasri Burman, Delhi-based artist painting Ganga, exhibition "River of Faith", artwork, art, indian express newsThe artist has painted the determination and resilience of the river on her 84x216 inch stark canvas titled "Jahnavi", with floating bodies in the Ganga. (Credit: Gallery Art Exposure)

In May 2021, when images of hundreds of corpses floating in the river Ganga went viral, like several others, artist Jayasri Burman was appalled. “It was an eerie feeling,” says the Delhi-based artist. She adds, “Since no one is supposed to touch the bodies of Covid patients, those who had no option and with access to the river, threw them there with the hope that the river will help them get moksha. The river did eventually wash out the bodies. She is brave. She is being abused but she is not expecting sympathy, she has the power to look after itself.”

It is this determination and resilience of the river that she has depicted on her 84×216 inch stark canvas titled “Jahnavi”, with floating bodies in the Ganga. The river, though, remains pristine in white. The charcoal work is one of the several that are part of the exhibition titled “River of Faith” at Bikaner House in Delhi. “As the world awaits to rediscover normalcy and happiness, leaving behind the sadness and shadows of the last two years, the River of Faith would be a beautiful tribute to the river and serve to gently remind us about restoring balance and tranquility in our lives and repose our faith in nature and its powers,” states Somak Mitra, director, Art Exposure gallery in Kolkata, where the exhibition will move after it concludes in Delhi on December 19, and continue till March 2022.

river Ganga, artist Jayasri Burman, Delhi-based artist painting Ganga, exhibition "River of Faith", artwork, art, indian express news “Jahnavi” (Credit: Gallery Art Exposure)

Born in Kolkata, Burman recalls visiting the Ganga ghat with her parents for Lakshmi pooja. “I was around six-seven years old and remember noticing the faith people had, that deep sensitivity and belief in the primordial power,” says Burman. As a child, she would also often listen to mythological tales, which perhaps spurred her interest in the subject, which eventually reflected in her artwork. Most often centring on goddesses, her depictions combine myth and mythology to tell of deities who braved adversities. “These stories are also relevant to our lives. They have learnings for us on the truth of life. For instance, Urja Vati has green at her back, Adrika carries the fish, Saraswati is Asawari, who brings music and culture,” says Burman. She adds, “My parents had a deep reverence for mother nature and they taught us to relish her bounties and also respect it.”

The ongoing exhibition is a result of years of research and her observations of the Ganga at the numerous places it flows, from Banaras to Hrishikesh. Though the river might have also been politicised in more recent times, Burman says, “Through my work I wish to spread the message that it’s a circle we all inhabit, and only if we nurture nature and not make her suffer, will humanity be able to live harmoniously.”

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First published on: 18-12-2021 at 08:50:07 pm
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