The work proposes a fascination to explore the formative gesture as a space for abstract cultivation. The manipulation allows for an organic permutation where forms are shaped into spontaneous fragments, while they call one to question the paradox of a limitless possibility, pointing to the promise of things that are yet to be imagined. Uncertain in their own becoming, they celebrate the innate curiosity of oneself in the imaginative play of wonder and delight.
Through bold strokes and colour, Rubert Soysa is a master at embedding the human form in layered dimensions. His vivid style unleashes motion through complex postures depicting simple gestures and relationships of everyday life. The spectrum of human emotion is expertly depicted through prominent, yet featureless, human figures. Soysa’s unbounded expression allows for personal interpretation of each composition.
Prageeth Manohansa is a name that has become so closely affiliated with the assembled works of art spotted throughout houses, villas and hotels throughout the island. This 33 year old artist studied in Benares and Sri Lanka after which he began working on various masks and God statues made with old car parts. After three years of working with Manohansa, this local sculptor has built a name for himself internationally, recently being featured in a calendar printed by Nuage Branding of Indonesia and locally, completing his biggest installation to-date at the new Courtyard Hotel in central Colombo. His work belongs to collections worldwide. This sustainable art form that Manohansa uses appeals to a variety of collectors, not only for their sensitivity to movement and form but their changing nature as outdoor sculpture creates an effect, which transforms.
Art Space Sri Lanka
Though the armed conflict ended in May 2009, the people of Sri Lanka struggle to confront post-war memories and recover from collective trauma. There are discussions on transitional justice, but there is no proper mechanism to heal these collective wounds and trauma. In my work I use art as a tool for healing. My work represents the inequalities that spawned three decades of war.
Building peace and reconciliation—thus, necessarily, narrowing the disparities between the communities—is much harder than winning the war. Without first recognizing the inequalities that begot the war, Sri Lanka cannot initiate a reconciliation process in any real or meaningful sense. I try to explore these inequalities through my work, and I believe that my art opens a space for discussing, imagining, and critically thinking about equalities.
All my dark shades represent the dark past of my country. I use triangles to symbolize riots, war and the stolen past. The triangles also generate energy and power. They signify productivity and with this, pyramids of power and bureaucracy. I have chosen to work with triangles to criticize this very power and bureaucracy, which protects and nourishes inequality.
Furniture and other figures fill my triangles. Furniture constitutes an integral space in our everyday lives and helps us sit, sleep, relax, work and study. The bed—a space where we are born, sleep, have sex—and the table—a space where we study and read—together symbolize our day-to-day happiness and sorrows, which have been shattered or burned by war. To me, the bed symbolizes pain, death, blood and sorrow because my father was murdered while asleep in his bed when I was four years old. That bed where my father died is carved into both my being and my work, which are shaped by the memories of his death and others like him. The beds are bandaged to represent not only the dead but also the wounded, disappeared, displaced and traumatized.
I strongly believe that we can narrow disparities between the communities by using art as a tool of healing. By exploring unforgettable memories of death, disappearance, torture and wounds, I try to use my work as space to lay bare the painful realities of the past so that people can grieve. The more we explore the hard truths, the more we will be able to open the wounds. Without first opening these wounds, we cannot treat them, we cannot heal them.
It was a glorious day in the year 2006; I was wondering around “Diyawanna Oya” to find a scenic location to paint. After selecting a suitable location I started drawing and suddenly a group of Army personnel emerged from a nearby bush and started to question me. It was in the conflict and they were suspicious of anyone around the parliament. After explaining to them that my objective was not drawing the parliament but the beauty of the “Diyawanna Oya” I was free to do my job. My state of mind however was not the same and it gave birth to a series of distinct paintings with a new dimension. They still encapsulates the beauty and serenity of the lake but also reflects the sudden fear and shock, the artificial landscape, created due to the experience which has forever changed the way I see the lake. It’s been 10 years now. “Lake Diyawannawa” one of the most stunning sights in Sri Lanka has begun to emerge with a number of changes. Not only the lake but also the changes started taking place within me. The monochrome concept of my paintings is now combined with a bit of colour.
I see the content of my work as being nature and human-centric. The unbreakable bond between man and nature and the human attempt to sever this by destroying whatever is natural and the subsequent human-human conflict that arises is what I present in my works.
It is my opinion that the sole human struggle within the economical and material spheres is totally inadequate and unacceptable to counteract our problems. Without delay we have to carry out two or more endeavours or revolutions. For man to be more human and to conserve nature a more honest heartfelt and proactive struggle must be launched. Humans must have more faith and confidence in the inner and spiritual world rather than the outer physical one. My firm belief is that most of the catastrophes faced by humankind presently could be resolved in the future. Getting rid of cruelty amongst human beings resolves internal pain and suffering. Not only do I try to explore these facts to the best of my ability in my work but I am willing to represent these values in my life also.
Love is a phenomenon that is capable of giving you anything you wish. Like the power of gravity that keeps us in place on earth, love is a binding force. It has made us who we are, and whatever we own.
As a person born and brought up in a culture nurtured by Buddhism, I believe that the concepts of good and bad fostered by the Dhamma reigns my subconscious mind. Which in turn guides me to hold on to what I conceptualize as good or spiritual. I release them on canvas.
In the existing socio cultural ethics “love” is often harnessed for material gains. Man in this scenario, a being only to himself is driven by selfishness, which he has embraced as love.
I have been trying to show how to turn materialism into love. That’s why I believe this is “Love Laundering”
‘In the beginning there was a line’, once said Pliniusthe Elder, the natural philosopher who lived towards the end of the Roman Empire. Since then, generations of art historians and experts are more or less convinced that a sketch or a drawing always is the beginning of a process of art which is ending in a painting, a sculpture or in architecture.
It must have been some ten years ago – I just had enjoyed his gorgeous painting Ardhanarishvara at an Exhibition – and then I visited the artist Sampath Amunugama for the first time at his place to have a look at his other paintings. It took ages before he showed me his latest paintings, because he first dragged from a small room a countless amount of drawings that soon covered the whole floor in the main room of his house.
At that very time I thought that all these drawings were practices, assurances, philosophical and existential studies for his final paintings, because all elements in his drawings were also found in his paintings. Now, I know, that these drawings represent a distinctive and autonomous expression of the artist.
Some drawings take weeks for Sampath to finish but others are made by the dozen in only one night. It seems that a primal force in his works sometimes just wants to destroy the medium on which it is used.
Once, somebody told me ‘paintings can fill rooms, whereas drawings cause tension in a room’. I personally find this tension and the way it is created very exciting. Drawings don’t forgive any failures. Drawings are precious documents of our fragile beingness.
Berlin, April 2016
When man’s material and technological advancement have eroded his metaphysical values, it brings him peril.Where can he turn for refuge?
‘The challenge never ends and man continues to create,
Man makes man,
You, I and all of us,
The title Escapes is argumentative and has different perceptions, which are based on personal aspects. In this series of paintings, my attempt was to capture bolts of freedom in the lives of people who live very simple lives, in my own way. Though they lack facilities, luxuries or wealth, their atmosphere is full of colors. Their shelters, clothes and festive decorations are, despite this, bright and colorful. These colors are placed over them, wrapping a part of their life that is otherwise left in darkness.
This series is the continuation of my previous exhibition Slums, where I began creating colourful surfaces.
Blooming Beauty is an aesthetic journey, based on the visual beauty of the lotus. The lotus has an authentic cultural characteristic. Particularly in Asia, it is a religious symbol. In this series of paintings I was not concerned about its religious or cultural aspects, I was simply inspired by its beauty and its purity that bloomed within my own happiness, exceeding all boundaries. I was also inspired by the series of paintings ‘Water Lilies’ by the French impressionism master Claude Monet. Influenced by him, I brought out my own abstract version.