Milburn Cherian at Jehangir Art Gallery


To gaze at 90 works by NID graduate and painter Milburn Cherian at the Jehangir Art Gallery over the next few days is to peer into a whole landscape of figures – but she says she loved the works of the famous Pieter Bruegel the Elder considered the one of the most important artists of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting (ca.1525 – 1569). The story goes that Bruegel was fascinated by nature, humanity and humor.

Thus, he is known for his detailed landscapes, his comical views and his colorful depictions of peasant life. Milburn creates a tapestry of characters that go beyond Bruegel as she takes us on a journey of discovery through the artist’s world and offers different and above all unexpected insights.

Produced over the past few years, here are works that form an enthralling aesthetic exercise, frozen in a spider’s web of reflections on art and manner, the relationship of the eye to the canvas, and the beauty of the human drama.

Book on Brueghel

Milburn, a NID graduate, says she received a book from her sister about the works of Pieter Brueghel the Elder, an innovative Flemish Renaissance painter and printmaker known for his grand landscapes and peasant scenes. years. “I studied the books on the peasant Brueghel, then I bought other books, I researched his works in detail, then I started my work… I studied how he created his crowd of characters and how he combined Carnival and the season of Lent in one painting.Then I started my work.

But Milburn brings the landscape of Pieter Bruegel forward – she imitates the vision of the painter who invented the modern landscape, but also becomes a storyteller of peasant scenes: a virtuoso brushwork showing the beauty of the world with an abundance of detail.

“When I studied Bruegel’s paintings, I discovered that he uses visual devices, hides details, creates multiple images, intertwines them with saturation, to make the viewer wonder about what he is sees, to go beyond the visual anecdote to access an ‘inner eye. can create a landscape of people that can be interpreted as a moral or spiritual lesson, or simply as a melancholy or passionate sigh. I have also realized that a work of art can sharpen our gaze, it can stimulate our imagination and our curiosity, and make us deeply aware of it.

Imagination and ingenuity

Milburn has an unbridled imagination and ingenuity with which she develops her compositions down to the smallest detail. The way she develops the details of her compositions is not only full of brilliant invention and technical bravery, but filled with a rare and intense energy.

Milburn’s images belong to biblical relevance and patterns of everyday life. The pictures are not pretty, not superficial but full of detail, they reflect exquisite craftsmanship and prepare us for a unique perspective that allowed us to understand the pictorial presentation. Each painting is like an art history lesson designed as sacred/realistic art, and the beautiful metaphor of the working spider takes on the appearance of a parable of patterns.

Drama and earthy tales

Milburn’s paintings are filled with drama; they are cluttered with the choreography of peasant characters who seem to be tumbling from the past. But it is his patience, his precision and his penchant for observation and the finesse of detail that give his works a Renaissance rhythm.

Indeed, she reinvents the paintings of Brueghel – in a rich and surprising narrative. It’s like looking at a picture from a Shakespearean tragedy that has an epic sweep reminiscent of one of the Bard’s story pieces. Just as Shakespeare’s stories were filled with ordinary people making or witnessing history, weaving together the great drama of politics with earthly tales, so she reimagines narratives as tumultuous, abundant, and deeply human.

Each painting is like a painting of dwellings, each facet comprising humble primitive staircases, a rare pictorial setting that reflects Milburn as an artist who connects us not only to the humble culture of the past, but to a lost chain but recognizable from popular beliefs, the culture of the poor, the illiterate and the underprivileged.

Glimpsing these works signifies a slow silence, the artist’s eye moving forward in a setting populated by people, waiting to offer its colors to the artist’s brush. In Village Resettlement, the image could not be clearer: it is not a question of telling the story of the painting, but of creating a panoramic essence.

Sometimes you have to find the original pose and zoom in on the many figures, grasping its hues, its forms, all its perfections and imperfections, before understanding the gradations of tones of Milburn’s brush, exteriorizing the human ethos of time and tide. And as his people sit or gaze into lost space in their own worlds, between the canvas and the time taken to form them, you know the artist builds shot by shot, line by line, color by color each piquant image of a painting.

Color and composition

While some works teem with people, others remain solitary, but their summation of associations is both slow and silent. Creation takes place through a succession of ideations and imagery. The colors dazzle, the compositions full of rigor. Men and women in simple or exotic outfits seem to belong in the moment.

While people’s works are more powerful, they do more than tell stories, they call our attention to human frailty and human drama – one in which we can recognize our own world. These paintings are also a demonstration of something vital: the architectural details of the dwellings, tiny but tidy, remind us of the quality of workmanship and the human hand that lingered over intricate details so many years ago. years. Exceptional quality of observation and painstaking detail and moments become the foundation for creating a work like this.



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.



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