Artist, firebrand and social activist, Chila Kumari Burman is known for her brightly hued, genre-defying prints, paintings, collages and installations that examine representation, gender and cultural identity. She has exhibited with the likes of Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Louise Bourgeois and Marlene Dumas. Her work has been snapped up by high profile fans including Sir Richard Branson and resides in the Welcome Trust, Arts Council and British Council Collections. Born into a Hindu-Punjabi family in Liverpool, Burman challenges stereotypes about race, class and religion and gender. She has been active since her graduation from the Slade School of Fine Art in the 1980s.
Burman’s work utilizes a variety of syntaxes informed by the vocabulary of popular culture: Bollywood, fashion, found objects (including bindis, sequins and sparkles), collections, and collage. Much of Burman’s work is autobiographical, her own narrative a meta-narrative of South Asian identity; her own story a symbol for a larger collective history.
Friend of the artist, John Phillips writes: “Burman is incurably spontaneous, ‘I don’t plan anything, it just tumbles out.’ She is witty and full of innuendo…Her prints are full of things half-hidden and abstracted, glimpses of enchantment and very quiet jokes. She is a magician who rips-up ephemera to evoke the sparkle of precious stones, the mysterious glow of pearls, and the fires kindled in our hearts.”