ACTIVATING ARTISTIC ADVOCACY
Visual artist Kanesh Thabendran is hailed for his agentive stance through stylized technique of photo cutting in exposing the angst of post-war Sri Lanka. We find his work facilitating the role of a bold and politically awakened advocate who not only critiques but informs of the ravages of war and its aftermath, shedding light in a creative manner whilst functioning as an artistic propaganda. Kanesh’s roots lay in the Northern part of the country, where the atrocities of a thirty year civil war were prominent. Earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts (Art and Design) from the University of Jaffna in 2015, Kanesh embarked on his artistry with a vision of delineating a personal narrative that speaks volumes, reverberating on a larger scale in the hearts of thousands affected by the war in the North.
The personal element of his work lay in memory, in snapshots of a life taken away when his home was demolished during the war when his family was forced to leave. However, after a couple of years he recalls finally having the freedom to return, but to a house that was no longer identifiable or relatable as he could not come to terms with the remnants of what was left. The artist's experimentation with photo cutting began at this point in his life, when he started to excavate his memories from a bygone time, and tried to envision a life that he could have experienced had the war not affected his life. Using old photographs, the artist created an intriguing artistic narrative, positioning the imagined with the real. Photo cutting as a creative process became so innate, it evolved into a mode of emotional release resulting in an overflow of thought and emotion. The culmination of these first attempts was the collection ‘Lost or Root’ exhibited at Saskia Fernando Gallery in 2015 as a part of the group exhibition ‘Seven Conversations’. At the Colombo Art Biennale in 2016, Kanesh’s collection ‘Conceiving Space’ took this artistic trajectory further, when he attempted to reconcile the past and the present by relieving himself from the pain of the interrupted reality of war through the same medium.
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