Exhibition of paintings and screen prints till April 13th 2014 by Nelun Harsagama
The Colombo Artists, organizers of “Not Another Art Project”, have in this instance opposing ideas about the world of art where the curator is the custodian of the artists work– Not Another Art Project is the result of an exhibition that is not “traditionally” curated.
Instead, of using the curatorial route to determine to the artists on how to present their work, they have chosen to arrange this exhibition by virtue of an invite to the artists selected by them — based purely on the personal relationship they maintain with each of the artists — and have been overwhelmed and humbled by their response.
The Colombo Artists’ only criterion is that they have a direct relationship with each artist. Some artists they know better than others; some they have met via email; but, they are familiar with the work and in the artists approach in the way they manifest what they make.
Each artist has his or her own personal interpretation to what they create and are not dictated to in this exhibition by a theme: political, social, conceptual or otherwise.
This sharing of space by the artists is the point. They are excited to come together to exhibit as a group—to learn, be enlivened and encouraged by each other. It’s their way of honoring and saying thanks to each other – for the inspiration they all have shared in the making of Not Another Art Project.
The Barefoot Gallery has traditionally encouraged this form of artistic freedom and is looking forward to seeing the results of the project. The Colombo Artists are showing this body of work at the Barefoot Gallery commencing on the 8th of May 2013.
The Barefoot Gallery
Ganeshism 3 is a celebration of Lord Ganesh in art, through an exhibition of paintings at the Barefoot Gallery. It is the third show of its kind since 2008 by Sri Lankan artist Mahen Chanmugam.
Mahen has been painting for over thirty-five years and has devoted the last eighteen years to portraying Lord Ganesh. The paintings in this year’s show are part of a collection that attempts to present, not only the symbolism and iconography surrounding Lord Ganesh, but also the artists view of the powerful energies that Lord Ganesh represents, in the world around us, and within ourselves.
For Mahen Chanmugam painting Lord Ganesh, the deity with the elephant head, is a personal journey that was inspired by his spiritual connection to Lord Ganesh. In 1994, while working and living in Singapore, Mahen began a study of the iconography and symbolism of Lord Ganesh. He started exploring the classic forms, postures and the iconographic principles of perfect poise within the 32 forms Lord Ganesh appears in and translated these into contemporary representations.
The intensity of the search for new content in classic form has added an intellectual ambivalence to his work. Whereas the image topic is constant, the paintings now capture a range of emotions and themes. Today his art looks at Lord Ganesh’s iconography as a philosophical template that symbolizes liberation from ego, acceptance and the laws of cause and effect. Paintings like the Thousand Petaled Lotus of Light and Lord Ganesh with a Flute visualize the deity as a force that enables consciousness to evolve from its lowest to its highest. Deep, mesmerizing eyes gently look down from many of his paintings, reflecting his inspiration of love and awe from a single form that is so eloquently described in Progress of the soul by John Donne: Nature’s great masterpiece, the elephant, the only harmless great thing, the giant of the beasts.
Mahen has worked with all types of media, having mastered, then abandoned, oil painting and airbrush illustration for the transluscent brilliance of acrylic. He now works on materials as varied as canvas, wood, glass and mirror and sometimes, even on rice bags and other industrial packing material. He has had five solo exhibitions in Singapore and Sri Lanka and he paints and lives with his wife, two children and cats in his home studio, amongst the water monitors and bats in Nawala.
Ganeshism 3 will open at the Barefoot Gallery on the 29th of November and will run until the 16th of December.
Preethi Hapuwatte has been working as a designer at Barefoot,since 1972 under inspired guidance and genius of Barbara Sansoni, to whom she was apprenticed in her early years. Preethi says she caught Barbara’s eye because “I anticipated exactly what Barbara needed before she could vocalize it.” Preethi’s affinity for things artistic was nurtured in a creative household that included her engineer father and soon-to-be architect brother, Anura Ratnavibushna. Both were drawing and designing at home. Through the process of osmosis, Preethi’s career in the art and design field took off.
Her love of design and colour soon found expression on canvas, a natural extension of what she was already doing. She loves the “feeling of painting”, the brush on canvas gives her deep satisfaction. This exhibition titled Moments to refer to her unconsciously painted short burst of brushstrokes–a departure from her style shown in earlier paintings. in this case, each stroke signifies a moment in time. This collection of paintings has been worked on since 2010. To contrast a moment in time she paints trees and animal life onto the canvas to denote a lifetime of contemplation and presence. Time to stop and enjoy life —“We should also take a moment to appreciate ourselves and our relationships before they are gone, we tend to miss so many beautiful moments”.
To draw further attention to enjoy our moments instead of ignoring each other, she has chosen to juxtapose her granddaughter’s drawings with hers. Here, she looks for moments of DNA, an artistic heritage passed down from one generation to the next—Preethi is very curious as to what her granddaughter draws, if Preethi perceives a similarity to what she produces and, recognizes the potential, then it is easy for the her to “guide the child”—so they both can value each moment and acknowledge time spent together.
Preethi has had 10 solo and 20 Group exhibitions at Barefoot and other prominent spaces since 1994. Preethi’s work has included assignments by Hemas House, Pheonix Clothing, Ceylinco Seylan Towers and The Millennium Art Collection in the Netherlands—Each one has commissioned her work.
NS June 2012
NS June 2012