Badri Narayan

Collecting art & artefacts

Sarmaya Founder Paul Abraham and Brand Custodian Pavitra Rajaram acquire objects to continually enrich our museum’s collection. In this Guide, they share some great advice with young collectors on how to engage meaningfully with the art and culture of India

reimagine I

‘reimagine’ is an ongoing Instagram-exclusive series through which we make connections across the Sarmaya collection and examine the extent to which our ways of seeing — and an object’s own meaning — are informed by time, space, and context

Nude with Still Life

In this painting, Badri Narayan has juxtaposed the figure of a seated female nude with a still-life composition. So much so that the woman itself appears to be another fixture in the still-life composition. There is a certain mystic dream-like quality to the painting that is a feature common to a lot of Badri Narayan’s… Read more »

Maya Displaying Her Veil Of Many Colours

A composition where a female figure on the left, likely signifying Maya or Illusion, lays out her colourful veil to be viewed by three men of religion on the right. Two of them seem to be Buddhist monks, and one seated figure has a sage-like appearance. The iconography is inspired by the various folk and… Read more »

Kukkuta Jataka

An artist’s interpretation of Kukkuta Jataka, a tale from the Buddhist Jataka fables inspired by the life of Gautama. In Kukkuta Jataka, Gautama takes life as a rooster. A cat that wants to eat the bird offers to become his wife first. The plot fails, and the bird is later revealed to be a Bodhisattva.… Read more »

Signature style

How do you know you’re looking at a Badri painting? Here are a few classic giveaways

Bedtime Stories

Badri Narayan was a master storyteller who drew from Indian mythology to spin his own brand of magic

Man of signs

A unicorn, an empty boat, a winged messenger. Decoding the haunting symbols of Badri Narayan’s art

Seeking Badri

Sarmaya founder Paul Abraham on why the artist has a special place in our collection

Multimedia master

Printmaking, teaching, writing, illustrating. Badri brought something new to each medium he explored

Unicorn on a Wall and Houses

This watercolour work by artist Badri Narayan (1929-2013) depicts a cluster of houses with a white unicorn in the foreground. Badri Narayan was entirely self-taught and his art betrays a deeply introspective gaze. All of his work was in some way or the other an exploration of the self. He was inspired by various movements… Read more »

Letter of Dream

This watercolour  depicts a woman on a bed holding a letter in her hand. She’s likely dreaming of receiving a letter from a loved one. Around her hover three other figures: two men and one woman. The dreamlike environment is further enhanced by bold washes of watercolour that run all around the central narrative. Badri… Read more »

Dream catcher

Wise, compassionate and endlessly inventive, Badri Narayan added a pinch of fantasy to every story he told. His art occupies a special place in the Sarmaya collection, not just for their incredible skill and craft, but also for their essentially hopeful perspective on life. His world of dreams and fables offered not the empty promise of escapism, but the deeper comfort of transcendence.