Art review

Art review

Anoli Perera, performance photographUnderstanding Authenticity

The artist denying the political boundaries and actual geography weaves stripes cut from an atlas into a playful, optimistically intertwined tapestry of Indo-Srilankan permeability over land and sea, its quiet, soft regularity gaining solidity despite the flimsy material.

The nine participants have brought works that display a good contemporary grounding. Not always entirely original, they nevertheless prove a sensitive and aware use of established current day ways whose aesthetic qualities reflect the nature of the issues, sensations and situations faced by the authors.

More importantly, what has been chosen for the show responds well to the expectations of the Indian audience by, on the one hand, addressing the kind of problems of Sri Lanka that generate an interest here and, on the other, without becoming too literal indicate certain socio-political, cultural and personal areas common to both countries and their artists. Violence is, of course, the first thing one can associate with the island finding its pained denouncement in Bandhu Manapari's wounded stretches of crimson covering rough scribbles, anonymous heads feebly protected by plasters, also in Koralegedara Pushpakumara's drawings with webs of barbed wire framed by prohibitive barrier tapes whose elegance makes the harshness emphatic. Prasanna Ranabahu in his apparently straight but speaking architectural photographs perceives the barricaded power of governmental authority now as a continuation and a shadow of its colonial past. The photographic prints of Janananda Laksiri from tangled trajectories of electrical cables, birds and greenery conjure an atmosphere of simultaneous rawness and lyricism, the darkroom manipulated layers of the real introducing the effect of alien-ness as well as naturalness. Two artists confront evident and less obvious traits of their own gender.

Pradeep Chandrasiri admits the murderous aggressiveness of the male yet finds it uncomfortably bewildered by itself and the surroundings, as he looks from behind at a man with a dagger amid hypnotically swirling patterns. In her performance photographs, Anoli Perera stages old-fashioned female family groups, their visible and hair-covered faces exposing and defying the male gaze and might. Another pair of artists assumes a more inward focus. Thisath Thoradeniya muses about discovering himself with much animated passion but deprived of surety, as he draws images of a schematic body as if emerging from some embryonic form only to gyrate without support. By contrast, his feminine counterpart, Lakisha Fernando, trusts and indulgently delves into the creative pleasures of drawn as embroidered flower designs about to expand and generate warmth. Together, the images in an understated but effective manner offer a diverse as well as fairly cogent insight into the artists' experience of the place.

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