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02 Oct 2019

Cork Printmakers presents Chila Kumari Singh Burman

Chila Kumari Singh Burman and friends, Leeds Polytechnic, England, 1977-78. Photograph: Tony Baker

Chila Kumari Singh Burman, 'Punk Punjabi Prints: A Suitcase of Etchings, from Reason to Madness'
Cork Printmakers


Lavit Gallery Wandesford Quay, Clarke's Bridge, Cork T12 E26D, Ireland Tuesday - Saturday, 10.30am - 6.00pm Until 12 October



Cork Printmakers
Wandesford Quay, Clarke's Bridge
Cork T12 E26D

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Cork Printmakers presents British, London-based artist Chila Kumari Singh Burman (b. 1957) at the Lavit Gallery in Cork, Ireland. The exhibition 'Punk Punjabi Prints: A Suitcase of Etchings, from Reason to Madness' is curated by Miguel Amado, director and curator of Cork Printmakers.

Burman investigates gender, class and ethnicity in the construction of identity. Her practice is rooted in her condition as a woman from both Punjabi and working-class heritages, and her understandings of social justice, cultural diversity in a post-colonial context and the politics of representation. Her primary medium is printmaking, but she also uses collage, photography and film.

Burman situates her work within a subaltern history of art, treating art as a tool or device for change. She thus moves away from the aesthetic parameters informed by Western modernism that define the mainstream narratives and practices of art, both historical and contemporary.

The exhibition features a body of prints created between the late 1970s and the late 1980s examining themes such as protest, institutionalised racism and legacies of British imperialism. It also includes a body of prints created between the 1990s and today considering topics such as consumerism, personal diasporic narratives and female empowerment within patriarchal systems of oppression.

Together the works document the evolution of Burman's output as a printmaker by showcasing the range of techniques she has employed over the years. In addition, they demonstrate the variety of subject matter that she has addressed, from responses to political issues emerging under Margaret Thatcher's administration and worldwide during the 1980s to Hindu-inspired imagery, from stereotypical views of Asian women to family stories.

Burman often reproduces – and re-creates – her own past work, and appreciates printmaking as a fundamentally democratic medium. For this exhibition she is printing a suite of etchings at Cork Printmakers' studio using motifs from her previous works. In addition, she is creating new collages that address urgent issues in Ireland, from Brexit to the Irish border.

Burman studied at Leeds Polytechnic and the Slade School of Fine Art in London in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She became a key player in the British Black Arts movement during the 1980s and has been exhibiting widely since then. She is recognised as an influential figure in the contemporary British art scene and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of University of the Arts London for outstanding contributions to the field of art.

Burman has exhibited in, and been commissioned by, numerous museums. Her most recent survey, 'Tales of Valiant Queens', was organised by Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, England, in 2018. Other recent highlights include a commission for the Science Museum, London, in the context of the 'Illuminating India' season (2017); 'The Place Is Here' at Nottingham Contemporary, England (2017); and 'Thinking Back: A Montage of Black Art in Britain' at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Netherlands (2016). Burman's work is held in a number of public collections, including Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Arts Council England and the British Council.

Cork Printmakers

Cork Printmakers is a print studio and gallery providing artists with a creative and well-equipped environment in which to work and offering audiences a diverse and inclusive environment in which to experience, appreciate, understand and enjoy art. As a resource organisation, it generates professional development opportunities to members. Through its showcasing function, it produces and presents art and critical discourse in the context of a curator-led programme. It plays a key role in the cultural ecology of Cork and is recognised for its activity in Ireland and internationally. It is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and Cork City Council.