Ancestral Headress by Pala Pothupitiye
Delve into a world where colour, sound and in depth revelations transcend the superficial to unveil an intriguing story of a nation as never told before...
Words Krishani Peiris
The Brunei Gallery in London goes tropical this October with ‘Serendipity Revealed: An Exhibition of Contemporary Sri Lankan Art.' Part of the Museum Mile, which includes 13 museums and galleries situated between King's Cross and the River Thames, the Brunei Gallery-associated with the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London-focuses on showcasing contemporary and historical exhibitions from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
‘Serendipity Revealed' will unfold a multitude of stories as seen through the eyes of 14 talented artists who have utilised various mediums to convey their impressions of a post-war Sri Lanka.
“The exhibition is an aesthetic way of revealing Sri Lanka on a more multi dimensional level than what people often associate the country with"
"This is the first time that the Gallery is presenting an exhibition of contemporary Sri Lankan art or any type of Sri Lankan art," said Annoushka Hemple, the curator of ‘Serendipity Revealed' and the founding director of Hemple Galleries. "The exhibition is an aesthetic way of revealing Sri Lanka on a more multi dimensional level than what people often associate the country with, which tend to be beautiful beaches, people, cricket and tea. Also we have been careful to select artists and art so as to have a pleasant variation of different stories."
Drawing from an eclectic mix of artists, the mediums used include paintings, installations, sculptures, photography and video among many other modern and unconventional approaches resulting in a diverse range of artistic expressions. The exhibition includes living artists spanning from young creators-what Annoushka termed as ‘new generation' artists-to those in their 50s while bringing in a few diaspora artists who will reveal their impressions of being a Sri Lankan growing up in another country.
"Each of these artists will have different stories to tell, transmitting their various experiences," explained Annoushka. "Further we have included an artist who is not a Sri Lankan, but who has lived in Sri Lanka for six years, as it would present an interesting angle."
The Exhibition will be held from October 9 –December 20, 2014
The exhibition strives to bring forth the rich culture of Sri Lanka that goes beyond the mundane and to present the view of Sri Lankan artists who have largely remained untouched and unaffected by the popular art trends, due to their isolation from the ‘international art scene'. As such their interpretations bring to light a quality that represents the inner most feelings and visualisations of the artist.
Reflecting on how Sri Lanka should be proud of this fact and also the difficulty of being an artist in any part of the world Annoushka said, "when people ask me why Sri Lanka was chosen, I tell them that they have something to show that other artists don't. In Europe, America or even Singapore, the art is very impressive and can overwhelm one with their ‘wow factor'. But at the same time it can be quite fatiguing and fashion driven whereas many artists that I am impressed with in Sri Lanka have incredible stories to tell and their work is a visual impression that is poetic, musical and deep."
She added that Sri Lanka and other countries should recognise the flair embedded in order to nurture such creations.Vibrant colours, breathtaking scenery and figures and lines poised in contemplation, will highlight the beauty of Sri Lanka while providing intriguing moments where one is left pondering, moved by the subtle revelations hidden in the midst of art.
SriLankan Airlines is a partner of this endeavour in coming forward to support local artists.
Pala Pothupitiye: Winner of the much acclaimed Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2010, Pothupitiya is known for his ‘map-works' which impart a stunning visual feast for the eyes. He is recognised as a political artist.
Anoli Perera: Based in Delhi, Anoli's works show influences of feminism and include installations, sculptures, painting and photo-performances as she explores themes such as women's issues, history, myth to identity, colonialism and post colonial anxieties.
Cora de Lang: Best described as a transcultural nomad who derives her artistic ingenuity from the several countries she has lived in, including Sri Lanka, Cora's art present figurative as well as abstract images along with photography and video.
Janaka Laksirian: His creations explore electronics, IT, 2D and 3D graphic software to present digital art and multimedia installations that are both remarkable and powerful. He calls on the viewer to focus on the broader issues in society rather than personal despair.
Mahen Perera: Working mainly with found objects and discarded material, Perera attempts to analyse and challenge the customary approach utilised to address issues of identity and representation.
Liz Fernando: Deriving inspiration from conceptual research, Liz's work looks into the role of photography in South Asia while focusing on the varying significance that photography, identity, history and the notion of memory have in non-western countries.
Reginald S Aloysius: Being a British-born Sri Lankan Tamil, Aloysius dwells on globalisation, emigration and the destruction of tradition through development and modernisation.
Kingsley Gunatillake: A painter and an installation artist, Gunatillake, is a senior practising artisan in Sri Lanka.
Dhanushka Marasinghe: An artist trained in fine arts and digital film, Marasinghe looks at the power of the audio-visual medium to explore socio political issues.
Koralegedera Pushpakumara: An early artist of what is known as the ‘90s trend', Pushpakumara is a painter as well an a conceptual installation artist.
Nina Mangalanayagam: A Swedish visual artist of Sri Lankan Tamil decent and based in London, Nina utilises her personal experience and family background to delve into the themes of identity, family, society and different environments.
Vimukthi Jayasundara: A young Sri Lankan director renowned for his surreal films that erase the borders between fiction and documentary and cinema and visual art, Jayasundera has won the Camera d'Or for best first feature at Cannes.
Bandu Manamperi: One of the first performing artists in Sri Lanka, Bandu Manamperi creates personal art experiences based on the transformation of his own body.
Pradeep Thalawatta: Visual impressions inspired by Thalawatta's time spent living and teaching in Jaffna, the modes include painting, drawing and photo manipulation.