Asia House’s recently opened Contemporary Art from Sri Lanka 2011 gives us a choice sampling of 25 works from some of the country’s most eminent artists working today. It's the first international showcase of art from that country since the end of the 2009 civil war.
The exhibition as a whole is both tantalizing and diverse. The 16 artists presented only scratch the surface of Sri Lanka’s creative output, and we were left wanting to see more from each of them. Muhanned Cader’s Coded and Loaded drawings, for instance, are a series of finely rendered, seemingly abstract drawings that look almost hieroglyphic. You could spend ages getting lost in the detail, or just trying to figure out what the shapes and silhouettes are.
On a completely different stylistic front, Jagath Weerasinghe’s Celestial Violence is part of his continuous exploration of the history, institutionalized violence and sociopolitical climate of his nation. To our delight, cartography also made an appearance. Pala Pothupitiye takes two maps of Sri Lanka and draws over them, creating new narratives from static geographical depictions. Are those claws? A bird? A tiger?
A panel discussion and debate with one of the artists, curators and experts in the field on 10 March is not to be missed. While admission to the exhibition itself is free, tickets for the educational evening event should be purchased through Asia House.
Contemporary Art from Sri Lanka 2011 runs at Asia House (63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G7LP) until 12 March.
By Yin Leow