19th March - 10th April 2015
First solo show in Sri Lanka at Hempel Galleries:
Reginald S Aloysius is a British Tamil Sri Lankan born in London
Reginald S. Aloysius is a British-born artist of Sri Lankan Tamil descent whose background has informed his work exploring themes of globalisation, emigration, and the destruction of tradition through development and modernisation. Through the exploration of the iconography of Sri Lankan and Southern Indian temples, Aloysius investigates the social agency inherent in any cultural choice.
Detailed drawings of Indian Hindu temples coupled with a delicate use of paint create an alluring relationship between drawing and painting. Etched into the surface of the wooden support, Aloysius produces a series of precise lines, representing airline flight paths. Commercial flight paths are, also migratory routes. The addition of scattered dried oil paint visually reference petals on temple floors and the metaphorically the scattering of diasporas.
The 'paintings' are maps that pick out the routes of contemporary Tamil culture. They may also be seen as lines that threaten to turn the surety of national identity into the shifting, nomadic identity of transnational cultures.
Through the exploration of the iconography of Sri Lankan and Southern Indian temples, Aloysius attempts to investigate the social agency inherent to any cultural choice.
"The pieces oscillate between drawing and painting. Drawing is the moment, the present with reference to past histories and painting is the revisiting of the moment, together creating an anticipated future."- Reginald Aloysius
Pala Pothupitiye has become one of Sri Lanka’s most recognized and celebrated emerging artists. His latest body of works being shown at Hempel Galleries, reveal the artist’s strong expressions of Sri Lanka’s contemporary social and political culture.
Pala‘s background is traditional training in ritual-craft mixed with formal academic education that have uniquely modelled his art thinking. His lineage includes traditional craft artists and ritual specialists. Gold-smiths, ritual healers and medicine men form part of his ancestry.
Coming from a low caste family and having personal experience with the often lawless and brutal disputes over land in his home village, Pala's well-known map works have fearlessly addressed the politics of Sri Lanka during and after the long civil wars. He focuses on questions of personal identity by bringing attention to his caste and lineage. He presents the concept of national identity by addressing issues of ethnic violence, religio-cultural extremism and geopolitics.
Pala’s dedication and commitment to his work has consistently taken priority in all aspects of his life. He is in every sense of the word, a ‘true’ artist. Over the last ten years, he has come to achieve international success and recognition. Pala has exhibited extensively both within Sri Lanka as well as internationally, such as in Delhi, Dhaka, Karachi, Kathmandu, Japan, Germany, Hong Kong and London. In 2010, he was nominated for the Sovereign Asian Art Prize and won the first prize which proved to be a turning point in his career. Pala’s work goes from strength to strength.
Religio-cultural extremism and majoritarian Sinhala nationalist sentiments are the main focus in this latest exhibition at Hempel Galleries in Colombo. Works for the current exhibition include paintings, drawings, sculptures and installation, in which religio-cultural extremism and majoritarian Sinhala nationalist sentiments are the main focus. Last year's Aluthgama tragedy and political support for extremist Sinhala Buddhist nationalism are the background to the inception of these works. His representation of traditional symbols and patterns shows how Sinhala Buddhist national and cultural icons can be misused and abused to support violence and extremist ideas.
The attraction of Pala's work is inescapable. It allows the viewer to address the realities of terror, violence, corruption, right-violations and injustice, within an environment of visual pleasure. Pala provides an aesthetic experience similar to life in Sri Lanka, where despite the underlying acute problems; people are enjoying much of the country's recent development and beautification.
"Pala is a multiple organism," says friend and photographer Michael O'Shea. The sweat and thoughts of many people come together in this artist's work.
COLOMBO ART BIENNALE, HEMPEL GALLERIES
& THE BRUNEI GALLERY
An Exhibition of Contemporary Sri Lankan Art:
9th Oct – 20th Dec 2014 – Brunei Gallery, London.
Thursday 9th October 6.30 – 9pm
Hempel Galleries with the Colombo Art Biennale and The Brunei Gallery are delighted to present an exhibition of work by contemporary Sri Lankan artists in London.
While the art scenes in many parts of Asia are beginning to or have already gained recognition internationally, Sri Lanka has, in a sense, been alienated by its 30 year war, which finally came to an end in May 2009. In the aftermath of the war, “Serendipity Revealed” will showcase and give glimpses of the untold story as unveiled by Sri Lanka’s foremost and emerging contemporary artists.
Protest Series by Anoli Perera, Education Map by Pala Pothupitiya, Liz Fernando
A thematic show with representation by different artists presenting works in different mediums giving a view of the recent and contemporary history of Sri Lanka.
Five years of peace, from the end of the armed conflict in May 2009, has given the country and its artists in particular the opportunity to settle and develop their artistic practice. Since 2009, Sri Lanka has also hosted three editions of the Colombo Art Biennale which has opened horizons to practising artists
“Serendipity Revealed” is being presented by the Colombo Art Biennale (CAB) in collaboration with Hempel Galleries. Curated by founding director, Annoushka Hempel who has carefully selected artists and their works to showcase and give glimpses of these untold stories as unveiled by some of Sri Lanka’s foremost contemporary artists.
Roadscape by Pradeep Thalawatta
Participating artists will include established artists in Sri Lanka such as: Kingsley Gunatillake, Anoli Perera and Sovereign Art Prize winner 2011 Pala Pothupitiya. Works by Internationally renowned artist Cora de Lang from her time in Sri Lanka, alongside emerging artists such as Jananda Laksiri, Pradeep Thalawatte and Koralegedara Pushpakumara. In addition works by diasporic artists such as Reginald Aloysius, Liz Fernando and Nina Mangalanayagam will be shown.
The exhibition will contain a minimum of 60 works including sculpture, installation, video, paintings and Photography and will be open to the public for two and half months.
Curator of the exhibition will give a talk that will give an important insight into the historical background and context for the exhibition. Six artists exhibiting at the show will also give presentations of their works at the gallery. Anoli Perera, Pala Pothupitiye, Reginald Aloysius, Liz Fernando and Nina Mangalanayagam.
Screening of video work by multimedia artists, including film director Vimukthi Jayasundara - the first Sri Lankan to win the prestigious Camera d’Or Prize in Cannes, will also be present at the opening of the show.
The Brunei Gallery, London - Russell Square, London WC1
The Brunei Gallery, close to the British Museum, is part of London’s ‘Museum Mile’, is an important venue that hosts a programme of changing contemporary and historical exhibitions from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The international widely recognized institution is supporting this show through sponsorship. http://www.soas.ac.uk/gallery/forthcoming/
For enquires: Puja Srivastava – email@example.com
Please click here to download the press release.
The "Reading Room" is a journey of discoveries and experiences, of nostalgia and witness; a space where the many and varied perspectives and practices of the book arts find a place of meeting, dialogue and expression. Book art demands both an aesthetic engagement and critical conceptual inquiry into the work.
Aesthetic engagement with book art requires a paradigm shift to reading a different logic in the book: the logic of the visual, textural and cultural. Traditionally, the book has signified knowledge, and can be considered a visually embedded cultural site because of this history (consider the many times that books have been burnt as acts of symbolic violence). It is a site where many versions of history, senses of identity and narratives (both dominant and counter) converge.
The book in contemporary art, is thus an object completely transformed – not just in its structure, but also in its meaning. Walter Benjamin calls this the "renewal of existence". This sense of renewal is to be experienced in the work of the exhibiting artists brought together in conversation in the "Reading Room". The mood is sometimes fantastical and playful, and sometimes evocative and intimate. At its most activist, it stands as a collective resistance to dominant politics and ideologies. And, as the artist, in many ways, works as an interpreter of the book, so will the viewer of the work. The experience of reading is deeply personal, whether approached with anticipation, curiosity, or sometimes even with hesitation. Thus, the "Reading Room" invites the reader of this space to carry with them the memory of this experience in a context created for encounter, discussion, and making meaning.
The curatorial concept of Displacement Anxieties focuses on problematizing the notion of cultural homogeneity. It explores how the core idea within an art work can experience loss of meaning when it travels away from its contextual territory. This ‘displacement anxiety’ is often exacerbated when subjectivities are flattened with theoretical readings that are not adequately equipped to take into account the multiple layers of meanings.
Displacement Anxieties with the work of three artists Pala Pothupitiye ( Sri Lanka), Roohi Ahmed ( Pakistan)and Hojat Amani ( Iran), anchored in the cultural, geographical and political specificities of their location and time aims to pose questions on the legitimacy of a globalized culture that eclipses the complex completeness of the local narrative.
An initiative of the Samdani Art Foundation, Dhaka Art Summit brings together works by over 250 artists from countries including: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Internationally acclaimed figures such as Jitish Kallat, Runa Islam, Shilpa Gupta, Shahzia Sikander, Rashid Rana and Nikhil Chopra presented major projects alongside some of the most exciting emerging names from the region.
Representatives from Tate Modern, The British Museum, Centre Pompidou and Solomon R.Guggenheim museum were among the speakers and jury members in attendance which included: Richard Blurton (Head of South Asian Section of the British Museum’s Asia Department), Caroline Bourgeois (Pinault Collection), Aaron Cezar (Founding Director, The Delfina Foundation), Lauren Cornell (Curator 2015 Triennial, New Museum, New York), Milovan Farronato (Director, Fiorucci Art Trust), Eungie Joo (Curator 12th Sharjah Biennial), Aurélien Lemonier (Curator, Centre Pompidou), Jessica Morgan (The Daskalopoulos Curator, International Art, Tate Modern), Sandhini Poddar (Adjunct Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum), Beatrix Ruf (Director, Kunsthalle Zurich) and Adam Szymczyk (Artistic Director, Documenta 14) among many others.
Amongst the invited speakers was Annoushka Hempel, founding director of the Colombo Art Biennale, invited to join a discussion panel themed 'Pioneers of the South Asian Art World' alongside Shahidul Alam (Director of Drik, Bangladesh), Pooja Sood (Director of Khoj, India) & Riyas Komu (Director of Kochi Biennale, India)
Hempel Galleries was also invited by the Dhaka Art Summit to showcase works by Sri Lankan artists during the summit. Works by Kingsley Gunetillake, Pala Pothupitiye, Anoli Perera, K. Pushpakumara, Jananda Laksiri & Pradeep Thalawatte were exhibited.
30th January - 09th February 2014
The theme ‘Making History’ is a provocation exploring the artistic adventure of making history. It enquires into the contemporary aesthetic experience, from historical, present and future points of view, to reveal a possible reality of making history as part of an art historical trajectory.
The Colombo Art Biennale 2014 will host 60 artists and art collectives, all of whom will present their work approaching the biennale’s theme, ‘Making History’, through a varied collection of artworks to include paintings, sculpture, video, installation, sound and performance at seven different locations across Colombo. The biennale will feature works of 25 artists from Sri Lanka, 9 artists from the region, including India, Nepal and Bangladesh, as well as 20 international artists from UK, Scotland, Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Sweden, China, Iran, and the USA.
The exhibitions will be open daily from 31 January to 9 February, between 10.30am and 7.30pm at JDA Perera, Park Street Mews, Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute, Goethe Institut, Post-Graduate Institute of archaeology, Lionel Wendt Galleries & Museum of Economic History.
This year, for the first time ‘Live Art’ is being included as a significant component of the festival’s programme of events, bringing into the unlikely nooks and corners of CAB galleries across Colombo, spilling over into the streets, moments that take on, engage with, and interrupt the notion of ‘liveness’ in performance.
A daily programme of curated walks, conversations, lectures, panel discussions and arty afternoons will be organised with the participation of the artists and curators, all under the scope of the biennale title, ‘Making History’. CAB Talks is curated by Ruhanie Perera. Please refer to CAB14 Events Programme for further details.
Enhancing CAB’s artistic programme are two significant exhibitions. The British Council’s ‘Homelands’ exhibition, a 21st century contemporary art story of home, away, and all the places in between which will be displayed at the Lionel Wendt & Harold Pieries Galleries.
In addition, the Goethe Institut and IFA have collaborated to bring an extensive exhibition by German artist Rosemarie Trockel, which is part of a series of monographic exhibitions from the Institut for Foreign Cultural Relations (IFA).
CAB Around Town fringe events this year will include, Barefoot, showing a collection of paintings from the Gallery’s private collection that will chronologically depict the Gallery’s history. Sethu Samudram, is an art project between Theertha Artists Collective in Sri Lanka and 1Shanthi Road in Bangalore, consisting of drawings done by Indian and Sri Lankan artists at Red Dot Gallery’s new premises. Screenings of short award winning videos by German artists will be screened at the Goethe Institut.
It is thanks to the help and support of CAB14 sponsors and partners that all exhibitions in the Colombo Art Biennale are free to the public. Special thanks to the Ministry of Culture & Arts’ Central Cultural Fund, for the significant support they are giving contemporary art in Sri Lanka. By supporting CAB and in particular the local programme, the Colombo Art Biennale is now recognized as an important Sri Lankan Cultural event.
Hempel Galleries with the Colombo Art Biennale and Visual Arts Projects are delighted to present for the first time in Hong Kong, an exhibition of work by contemporary Sri Lankan artists.
While the art scenes in many parts of Asia are beginning to or have already gained recognition internationally Sri Lanka has, in a sense, been alienated by its 30 year war, which finally came to an end in May 2009. In the aftermath of the war,"Serendipity Revealed" will showcase and give glimpses of the untold story as unveiled by Sri Lanka's foremost and emerging contemporary artists.
It is only when a land is mapped or cartographed that scrutiny and documentation of that land is done. It is only when that has happened, that the inconsistencies and problems will be revealed. Both Perera & Pothuypitiye are in a manner scrutinizing a land, talking about and questioning its identity politics, claims of boundaries, mythical beliefs and its history. Pala's work on maps addresses identity, claims of land and the changing faces of these. Anoli's 'Civilizing Serendib' series speak of colonial history and the notion of authenticity. 'Swarnabhumi' expounds the contradictions of a nation, golden land and charred memories, while 'Protest' again communicates the idea of resistance to attempts of 'Civilizing'. Anoli Perera
Anoli Perera Anoli Perera, director of Theertha Artist Collective and mentor to many now successful artists, has herself built a name in Sri Lanka and India. Anoli's work consists of large installations, paintings, sculpture and more recently photo-performances. Hailed as the pioneering contemporary woman artist in Sri Lanka, who ushered in art that is informed by feminism and craft art practices, Anoli's work engages critically on thematic that range from women's issues, history, myth to identity, colonialism and post colonial anxieties.
Pala Pothupitiye Pala Pothuypitiye winner of the 2011 Sovereign Art Prize in Hong Kong has become teacher & guide to many younger emerging artists in Sri Lanka. Born in 1972 in Deniyaya, he is currently based in Colombo and works with a team in his studio as a full time professional artist. He has exhibited extensively in Sri Lanka as well as internationally. Born into a Sri Lankan dancing caste his early works explored his own identity crisis. After visiting Jaffna after the end of the civil war he found himself more inspired by the change in the country than in the search for his own identity and expanded this theme through a series of maps and drawings on canvas.
To run concurrently with this exhibition, a group show of established and emerging artists working in Sri Lanka today, to give people in Hong Kong a further taste of this little known art scene. Kingsley Gunetillake, Koralegedara Pushpakumara, Pradeep Thalawatta and Janananda Laksiri.
"My being finds comfort in the ancestral chest of memory, a bottomless container of infinite remembrances ready to be refreshed without context and out of context selectively. Some names without faces and some faces without names peer through an ancestral mirror; it reflects their genealogies as well as ours. Their silent gazes beckon us to decipher the clues to understand their world that is so distant yet vivid enough to imagine.
I memorize their faces and caress the memorabilia left behind to signify and categorize eras, to lament and to comfort the nostalgias of others like me. Infinite possibilities of memories await just to be unlocked; they await moments of nostalgia to be revisited and a keeper who will be a posthumous repository for them."
The advantage of living between two eras is that one sees the contrasts and contradictions of both times...
I gaze into the little crystal balls that encapsulate my memories where the pictures become visible in black and white..like the movies of love stories from bygone eras played in black and white amidst the colors of lived reality. 'Movie-made' love was so simple then. Eventually, the hero falls in love with a beautiful damsel and lives happily ever after. Complexities that reside in myriad emotions within the idea of love abridged to a simplified formula to attain a timeless fantasy... a fantasy that resides between the past and present." – Anoli Perera
|Memory Keeper: Ancestral Chest
Wooden Chest with mirror, digital photo frame and cloth balls.
Size: 28” x 26” x 16”
|Memory Keeper: Happily Ever After (2013)
Ceramic vase with cloth balls, glass balls and images on sticker paper.
Size: 18” x 21” x 15”
Anoli's work is currently shown at Sakshi gallery (hall 1:1B25), Honk Kong, and can be found on the online catalogue : http://www.artbaselhongkong-online.com/index.php5?id=1411446&path=Home%2FGalleries&Action=showProduct
The Gallery launched on May 17th 2013 with an exhibition of eight artists including; Anoli Perera who's recent success in Delhi is now leading to her career expanding in Hong Kong during the prestigious Basel Hong Kong Art Fair; Cora de Lang, trans-cultural nomad whose works are collected in state collections internationally, and Pala Pothupitiye who's famous map-work was awarded first prize at the 2010 Hong Kong based Sovereign Asian Art Prize.
From a visual art context, when examining how different artists have addressed the notion of 'identities', it is revealed that while a small percentage of artists approach the theme directly, most artists and their works have dealt with the theme subliminally. In addition, what has emerged, are the various sub-themes of ‘Identities’that include cultural, gender, sexual, institutional, political, national and of course, personal identity.
The curatorial process and focus has been to identify and bring together relevant existing artworks in Sri Lanka, some of which have been recently created, some which have been previously exhibited, and some of which may have been produced several years ago, to create a narrative on the theme that best exemplifies the various approaches to the subject of 'Identities'.
By Koralegedara Pushpakumara
K. Pushpakumara, a member of the initial group of artists following the 90s Trend, presents his new work based on the continuing series Goodwill Hardware.
While imagery in his work at a glance is seen as patterned forms that are almost meditative, what is represented in the images, soon takes you away from any inclinations towards spirituality. By using images denoting items used mainly for restricting movement or associated with violence and war, and presenting these in a seemingly design-oriented patterned form, his works play with the juxtapositions of banality and non-banality, innocence and non-innocence.
Goodwill Hardware 2013 attempts to point at the human suffering that a society has undergone and its attempts to dismiss such suffering from the social memory by blatant political discourses of erasure. The patterned imagery of his canvases also points to the denial of society to recognize the camouflaged violence that has permeated into society settling like sediments underneath its surface. Purposeful use of violence-prone imagery such as barbed wire in a meditative sort of arrangement in screen-print, references to the camouflage of violence that has merged into the background of socio-political landscape of the artist's context of living as a non-descript situation. Pushpakumara's works are pivotal particularly in the post-war context where society has already started to forget the recent violent past and artists have begun to move away from political and interventionist themes.
by Pradeep Thalawatta
In mid-December 2010, Pradeep Talawatta engaged in the "Innovative Design Workshop" conducted by the National Design Center, for the students of Art and Design at the University of Jaffna. The very next year, he was selected by the University of Jaffna as an Assistant Lecturer in Art & Design. This was the beginning of long ten-hour bus journeys about twice a month which he has continued to do for two years a 750 km meter round trip between Colombo and Jaffna.
The 30 year military conflict in Sri Lanka ended in 2009. After that political conditions became calmer and enabled artists like Pradeep Thalwatta, to live and teach in the North. In addition, the roads were gradually cleared of restrictions; landmines were removed, the number of security checkpoints were reduced, roads underwent repair work and roads were opened . In this exhibition, Thalawatta focusses mainly on the roads in the Jaffna area. These are the roads which Jaffna people use in their day to day lives, as does the artist, when he is in Jaffna. Thalawatta has, for some time, addressed aspects of city development and personal commuting experiences.
With the rapid construction of roads in Jaffna by the government, the people of Jaffna, as well as the artist, have experienced the process of road development, and the affects it has had on their lives. It is this insight that Thalawatte is sharing with us.
As Thalwatta's encounters dialogues of despair and a feeling of loss being sensed several years after the end of war. It seems as if these new infrastructural changes are not whole-heartedly embraced. A sense of distance between the people and political authorities seems to prevail at varying degrees. For them, physical and socio-cultural landscapes are being altered without consent. But in all this, a determined tone to rebuild towards a stronger future is still present.
Several works in this show simply depict the sky, sea and road. A road is drawn on a fragile tissue-roll. It is also drawn on the back of playing cards hinting to the careless, corruptive game-like nature associated with construction work. The old road is intricately textured in contrast to the new asphalt covering. 'Raja Theatre Halt' depicts a roadside shrine which is now removed to widen the roads. 'KKS Road' shows some of the road side shrines Thalawatta had captured in his regular commuting to Jaffna University. Nearly all of these venerating spaces are now a removed, affecting the history and heritage of these places. The red color Hibiscus flowers are used in Hindu religious rituals. A well rooted Hibiscus tree with red flowers resiliently stands through the old and newly laid asphalt layers.
In this art making process, Thalawatta is very clearly not engaging in a victorious or dominating Sinhala Buddhist mentality. Nor does he engage as foreigner who exotically perceives underlying religious, cultural and social complexities, and grossly simplify them. His attempt is to be understanding, empathetic and sensitive.
Thalalwattha's line of work shows potential for further development, with the social political changes of Jaffna as well as the country.
The socio-politics behind these Roads are highly convoluted and complex. The carefully decided title of this exhibition, 'A Different Road' leads us to think of the road as a metaphor. It leads to many thought provoking questions: What is the difference? Is it a different Road or a new Road? For whom is this difference and for what? And where does or should this Road lead to?
The second Kathmandu International Art Festival is taking place from 25th November till 21st December 2012 with the theme Earth/Body/Mind.
Pala Pothupitiye has been selected to participate from Sri Lanka. The Kathmandu International Art Festival is the largest international art event held in Nepal and will be held as a nonprofit, noncommercial festival every three years by the Siddhartha Arts Foundation. Each edition of the festival is based on a particular theme. The festival is about bringing like-minded individuals together in a contemporary aesthetic experience. This is about art for a social cause.
Born in 1972, Pothupitiye Acharige Somapla commonly known as Pala Pothupitiye, received his art education at the Visual and Performance Art University at Colombo. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree majoring in sculpture in 2002. Coming from a background of traditional craft artists and ritual specialists, he incorporates and reinterprets certain material and philosophical contents of traditional art in his work.
A thoughtful, sophisticated, subtly political artist, Pothupitiye has established himself as a vital exponent of ‘90s trend’ Sri Lankan art. He confronts the compelling political issues raised by the war in Sri Lanka and brings certain repressed questions to the canvas and art objects. He extends these issues, 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.
Pothupitiye became the Best artist of the year and received the First Palace in Sculpture at the State Art Festival in Sri Lanka in 2003. In 2005 he participated in the 3rd Fukuoka Triennial at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museumin Japan. He is a visiting lecturer at the University of Jaffna in Sri Lanka. Since 2002 he is associated to Theertha International Artists’ Collective in Sri Lanka. At present he is living and working in Mullegama, Colombo, and runs an art and craft workshop supporting a set of younger artists.
Hempel Galleries are delighted to announce a unique opportunity to purchase rare and collectible prints and maps from Sri Lanka dating from 1736.
Prints from Illustrated London News and Sporting Times. Maps from salvaged old books and Atlases collected by a private collector over the past 30 years.
Please email us for further information: firstname.lastname@example.org
CAB successfully completed its Second Edition of the Colombo Art Biennale with "Becoming". Over a period of five days, Colombo experienced an artistic phenomenon never experienced before in Sri Lanka. CAB adopted the theme "Becoming", which was reflected by the astonishing variety of the best of the best contemporary Sri Lankan art on show, alongside international artists. CAB 2012 appeared at several prestigious locations, including the National Art Gallery, JDA Perera Gallery, Park Street Mews Warehouses and at Maradana Warehouse Project. 'CAB Around Town' fringe events were also dotted all over the city. The full programme over five days included interactive installations, live performances, talks, curated walks, video art, interactive art installations by both local and visiting international artists that all resulted in a high energy buzzing atmosphere. Special new CAB events also included artist dinners and the Becoming One Party with surprise guest artists.
By Anup Vega
The Colombo Art Biennale 2012 was a five day event which took place at different locations around Colombo. In 2012 the theme 'Becoming' was selected as a natural follow on from the theme of the last Biennale 'Imagining Peace'. It acknowledged a point of time in the country's history. "Becoming" is neither about the past nor the future. It is about the creative potentiality of the ever moving and changing present. In addition to the exhibitions, CAB explored the theme through a varied and well attended programme of seminars and workshops which proved to be highly successful.
Anup Vega's spontaneous grace and the insights unique to him can be seen in his exhibition titled "BECOMING ESCAPEE". His obsession is with his immediate surroundings and in particular, nature. Vega, born in Kurunegala in 1967, studied at the village school Wandaragala and moved to Colombo in 1983. Having visited galleries and exhibitions in Colombo, he soon discovered the joy of sharing the bliss of his own creativity. Ever since he began exhibiting, his work has been a reflection of nourishment, of joy, of beauty and of bliss which helps him to keep his spirit high. His work does not need any justification nor explanation. It is the world he inhabits and his sole object of desire.
by Pala Pothupitiya And Aruna Vidana Arachchi
Objects of Desire - An exhibition by Pala Pothupitiya And Aruna Vidana Arachchi
Objects of desire combines the works of Pala Pothupitiye (winner of the prestigious 2010 Sovereign Asian Art prize) and Aruna Vidana Avachchi together reassessing the traditionally accepted roles of men and women. The concepts of male and female, and the problems which arise from the two combining entities, are addressed in a manner which not only questions the ongoing validity of chauvinism within society, but also deals with the problem of pre-marital romantic relationships.
Objects of desire is a provocative body of work by these two artists represented by both painting and sculpture installations.
Pala’s ‘umbrella lovers’ explores the problem of modern day romance in a society which has not yet adapted its tolerance of pre-marital love. The vivacious colours of the umbrellas against plainer backgrounds reflect the audacious nature of romance and the young lovers’ defiance of outdated conventions.
Aruna’s work combines male and female sexuality in a very different way. The main body of his work, so to speak, predominantly employs the male physique. At first glance, this might be mistaken to suggest the dominance of the more powerful male role within society. On closer inspection, however, one realises that the colour and texture of the sculpted bodies combine to reveal an interlocking relationship between the concept of femininity and masculinity. Although the sculpted bodies themselves are male, the colours used and the materials applied to the work are not only inherently feminine but have actually been made by women. The message here is that the relationship between the two sexes is literally interwoven and, just like Aruna’s art, the two are incomplete without each other.
Both Pala and Aruna are entertaining the issue of male and female forces, like real men and women in Sri Lankan society, to hide the issue of sexuality behind umbrellas and to conceal objects of desire behind a mask of convention.
Objection of Desire - Invitation
Works by Bandu Manamperi & Pradeep Chandrasiri.
The works of Bandu and Pradeep bring together notions of memory, howthe effects of external events and doctrines are absorbed into the
individual’s being through the body; memories that become inscribed on our skin and run deep into our veins.
[de] inscribedmemories is an extremely strong body of work by these two artists represented by both performance and visual art mediums. Bandu’s “Perforated Body” series expresses the effects of the immediate post war situation of Sri Lanka through the manipulated use of religion and politics. "The Perforated Body" metaphorically expresses how our bodies and minds are perforated and infected by dogma and doctrines. Our original purer skin inscribed upon by external influences and we find ourselves adopting different skins in which we are in a safer and more comfortable but numbed to reality.Pradeep’s “Red, Black & White” works are a powerful shortcut to the memories that remain in the veins of the human body. Memories of places and events that continue to live within and the hidden secrets of what might have happened. Through the body you can see the memories.
PradeepChandrasiri is one of the important painters who came into prominence within the discourse of the ‘90s Trend’ in late 1990s. He
belongs to the first generation of younger artists directly identified with the ‘90s Trend’. The theme of Chandrasiri’s work has always
been focused on violence; to be specific it has mostly been about remembering political violence. This is more so in his paintings, than in his
installations that addressed violence more as a cultural or social construct, as can be seen from his internationally exhibited installation titled
The central motif of Chandrasiri’s early paintings was a seemingly agonizing male figure who presented himself as if he was engaged in a struggle to free himself from traumatic experiences. These early works were, in many ways, akin to autobiographical notes, and they presented a psychological disposition that was, perhaps, driven by a certain degree of narcissistic injury.
Chandrasiri’s 2007 body of works contained the same theme of remembering violence as did his early works of the late 1990s. But in these works constructed with mostly black and white shapes and stenciled images, Chandrasiri deploys a radically different narrative account and presents a very different psychological and visual disposition. In these works, Chandrasiri engages with his theme in a much deeper and more subtle manner. Bloody events of the late 1980s are reminded, not in an agonizing manner but in a mournful and melancholic way. The play of black and white, their shades and the coiling and wriggling red and black lines have brought in a certain sense of archaism to the painted surface. The notions of conflicting drives, anguish and fear of death, that can be considered among the prototypical phenomena that give rise to narcissistic injury are largely erased or suppressed from the surface of these paintings. By doing so Chandrasiri has been able to produce a series of works that could transcend the memories of violence and look deeper into the meaninglessness of being violent.
Bandu Manamperi’s first art approach entered the society with the Made in IAS exhibition, with his powerful work “Instant
Nirvana Private Limited”. This work received international and local attention. Organized under the curatorship ofJagath Weerasinghe, Banduis one of
the important painters who came into prominence within the discourse of the ‘90s Trend’ in late 1990s. He belongs to the first generation of
younger artists directly identified with the ‘90s Trend.
Following this, Bandu developed into becoming one of the initiators of performance art in Sri Lanka as part of the 90s Trend. Today, Bandu remains one of the leading Sri Lankan performance artists active both nationally and performing at contemporary art institutions overseas. As a performance artist, BanduManamperi explores three themes. One is to highlight critically the oppressive cultural beliefs or practices forced upon woman that continuously prevail in the male-centric. Another is to present through sensitive performances the individual’s pain in a war scarred society and its extreme anxieties. The third is to interrogate critically, the extreme religious interventions and blatantly extremist behaviour of the state through political and sometimes witty performances.
In this ‘Perforated Body’ collection, Banduengages in finer and deeper socio political issues.
The artworks of this show exhibit an expression of ‘instantly frozen’ beings made from molds taken from the artists’ own body. These bodies are covered with different textured surfaces and suspended from the ceiling. These are supported by Bandu’s own performance.
In ‘Perforated Body’, Bandu is attempting to express to the viewer that in a society where different cultural/political coverings act as protective membrane over one’s own natural skin, the individual finds comfort and security within it. That is, the individual would acquire different coverings representing extremists and obsessive positions reflective of religion, history, nature, patriotism, self-absorption, independence and media. Bandu highlights that such tendencies in this complex political, cultural religious time, distort the individuals personal integrity and ideologies.
- Ref: PrasannaRanabahu, Oct 2009
Please find us on you tube.
An exhibition by ANOLI PERERA
I have an attraction for myth, memory, history and interpretation…. My work is about life, context, moments and action specific to women. Be it mythical, experienced or imagined, the idea of nostalgia lingers somewhere as a feeling, a desire or mood. My present series on Kuveni, somehow touches the woman in me.
I have taken immense liberties (artists like to feel that) in selecting or concocting forms that interpret or symbolizes such moments and moods. Vijaya is equated to a sea serpent coming from the sea with multiple serpent heads denoting his 700 men. Their phallic form emphasizes the heightened maleness that presents as a constant threat to conquer land, the earth and its inhabitants. Kuveni is presented with a heavy referent to vaginal form, specified as woman through embroidered and patterned surface painted in detail. In my paintings I have patterned conquest, violence (threat of castration & penetration), pride, defiance and play, all within the narrative that unravels in the story of Kuveni. It also refers to the mythicized animal Liger, which is posited in the mythical landscape of Kuveni. Totally blind, Ligers are presented as an army to be led by whoever has power. The works 'Liger Army with Kuveni' and 'Liger Army with the Sea Serpent' consciously emphasize the equations of power. As such, conquest is never presented as the closure or the end.
Anoli Perera has always been for me, one of Sri Lanka's most talented artists, curators and writers. As an individual, Anoli has also been both a pillar of support, strength and an inspiration to young emerging artists around her. Her own work ranges from staggeringly powerful 3D installations that have been exhibited and bought by international museums, to her newest creative expressive work, her intriguing photo-performances, and her long time relationship with the story of Kuveni. So I am delighted to finally have the chance to host a one-woman show by Anoli Perera to highlight and showcase her latest body of work, stunning paintings of Kuveni.
Says Annoushka: Anoli's Kuveni series touches me on so many levels. On first sight the beauty of the image of Kuveni, its organic and sinuous female shape enhanced by details of painted lace and embroidery. Her colours bright and vibrant amidst a watery wash, almost move and take you into this mystical world. These images are abstract but poetic depictions of woman in history through the life of Kuveni. These paintings tell stories of the power and the vulnerability of woman, the ever existing struggle of control and passion between man and woman.
Allow yourself to enter this world if you dare. As the small male figures climb up to ambush the world of 'woman' with its varied shapes and mysterious places, Kuveni is victimized but also deified. This is a microcosmic world within the history not only of humanity but perhaps even of worlds beyond.
- Annoushka Hempel