CHILA KUMARI BURMAN
Born in Liverpool to Punjabi parents, Chila Kumari Singh Burman has explored her British-Indian heritage and what she describes as “the experiences and aesthetics of Asian femininity” for more than 40 years. Her exuberant work spans painting, printmaking, collage, photography and performance: Bollywood bling meets Pop art, with lashings of colour, glitter and a defiant refusal to be constrained within a single approach or interpretation. Her subjects are sel-fidentity and the politics of representation, which she expresses through an exploration of her own British-Asian background and cultural notions of femininity – big themes treated with playfulness, accessibility and an explosive sense of colour. While she has long been recognised as a leading British-Asian artist, Burman is now receiving broader acclaim for her use of self-portraiture to question the identities we construct and present to the world.
Burman was a member of the British Black Arts movement of the 1980s and one of the first South Asian women to make political art in the UK. Her work remains infused with messages of female empowerment and a desire to explore multiple cultural contexts and identities. A celebration of punk attitude and Punjabi heritage, Bollywood glamour and her working-class background, Burman’s work challenges convention and leads a discussion of how art can embrace diversity and difference in today’s world.
Burman is now being celebrated for her captivating neon-lit sculptures and installations, including the epic and critically acclaimed installation that graced the Tate Britain facade in 2020. In recognition of her contributions to the visual arts, she was appointed as a Member of the British Empire (MBE) on the Queen’s Birthday in 2022. Burman’s work can be found in the collections of the Tate, Victoria and Albert Museum, Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Wellcome Trust, as well as numerous international institutions.