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Artist Page

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Pala Pothupitiya (Works)

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Born in Deniyaha, Sri Lanka, 1972. Lives and works in Korathota.

A thoughtful, sophisticated and political artist, Pothupitiye hasestablished himself as a vital exponent of the second generation of ‘90s trend’ Sri Lankan art. The first generation — Jagath Weerasinghe and Chandraguptha Then uwara are exemplary — took Sri Lankan art out of the grasp of orientalism, the exoticization of the village as the essence of the island. It confronted the urban and the compelling political issues raised by majoritarian Sinhala nationalism’s war against the Tamils, brought these repressed questions to the canvas. Pothupltlye, associated since 2002 with the Theertha collective initiated by Weeraslnghe, continues such engagement with the present and extends it, raising new, Imperative questions — both by the content and form of his work. Questions like caste, which engage with a singularly Sri Lankan problem, and those like the distinction between art and craft, tradition and modernity, which should compel anyone committed to finishing the critique of eurocentrism.

From a distance, Pala’s Ancestral Dress artworks (2003) appear like a collection of masks cum head-dresses worn by ritual (tovil) dancers: beautiful, brightly-colored, meticulously fashioned from rural, organiC material. The kind one finds in tovil ceremonies, folk museums, tourist gift-shops. Pothupitiye’s production insists that what gets coded as “traditional” Is as inventive as the modern; and that, in turn, the modem Is also Indebted to its inheritances.

Pothupltiye’s series My ID (2008), develops a theme latent in Ancestral Dress: raises the question of identity using the lion of the national identity card as a dominant motif, which Is required to be carried at all times by every citizen. Pala also reveals the subject’s “caste.” Pala himself the son of a tovil dancer from southern Sri Lanka, confronts the viewer with the notion of caste oppression.

Pala is in the process of developing new body of works with maps, hereby combining the notions of land, ownership, nationalism and identity within these contexts. Pala is the first Sri Lankan artist to have been nominated for the Soovereign Asian Art Prize and one of his most recent maps has just been shortlisted for the 2010 Prize.

CV of Pala Pothupitiya


2010 Training and learning in a traditional

2006 Training program in Pakistan traditional jewelry, Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, Pakistan

2006 Study and training, Pakistan traditional metal work methods and techniques, Craft-villages, Lahore, Pakistan

2006 Study and training, traditional Pakistan sewing methods and techniques, with craft men, Lahore, Pakistan

2002 University of Kelaniya, Institute of Aesthetic Studies, BFA in Sculpture, Colombo, Sri Lanka


2003 Ancestral Dress, Gallery 71, Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

2008 Ancestral Dress + My ID, Theertha Red Dot Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka


2008-2009 "ArtFul Resistance - Crisis and Creativity in Sri Lanka", Museum of Ethnology, Vienna, Austria
2007 Arte Curioso, Theertha Red Dot Gallery, Pitakotte, Sri Lanka

2007 Images of Globalization, Curated by Prof. Jagath Weerasinghe, National Art Gallery, Sri Lanka
2005 3rd Fukuoka Triennial, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan
2005 Contemporary Sri Lankan Art: Works by 10 Artists, Millesgarden Museum Gallery, Sweden
2006 Parallel Realities: Asian Art Now, Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, UK
2004 Goddesses Descending, Gallery 71, Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka
2004 Urban and the individual, Finomenal Space, Colombo, Sri Lanka
2004 Aham - Puram, Public Library, Jaffna, Sri Lanka
2004 Contemporary Sri Lankan Art, GTZ Office, Colombo, Sri Lanka
2003 Ancesrtal Dress, Fimomenal Space, Colombo, Sri Lanaka.
2003 Art for Peace Exhibition, Lionel Wendt Art Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka
2002 Made in IAS, Star Fort, Matara, Sri Lanka
2002 Made in IAS, Gallery 706, Colombo, Sri Lanka


2006 Residency Workshop, Beacon house National University, Lahore
2005 Khoj International Artists Workshop, Mumbai, India
2004 Swedish-Sri Lankan Residency Workshop, Colombo, Sri Lanka


2003 Best artist of the year, State Art Festival, Colombo, Sri Lanka
2003 First Palace, Sculpture, State Art Festival, Colombo, Sri Lanka


Pride and Power by Pala Pothupitye