OF DEBRIS & DISCARDS
The dynamicity of the artistic medium of contemporary artist Pathmal Yahampath stems from its use of discarded material in facilitating a socio-political dialogue. We found the use of metal and wood as significant mediums in presenting ‘discarded’ thoughts of ecological significance as well, as they aptly illustrate man’s relationship with the environment and disturbances to the ecosystem that is currently in place in Sri Lanka.
Deconstructing the modern capitalist ideologies, Pathmal uses wood that is redundant, signifying the working class that has less to no power as well as the environment that is being destroyed due to increasing consumerism. Through the very act of forming a work of art, we found Pathmal to be questioning the status quo. Society requires a fresh perspective, a reconstruction, a novel approach to break this cycle of capitalistic thought. By using man-made metal that has its own mechanical energy, Pathmal re-uses the medium to explore societal conditions experienced by the Sri Lankan citizen. There is dynamism in the construction of his pieces as well: his technique and medium portray humanity to be victimized by its own social, political and economic conditions.
The statement by Charles Knight, “some writers say, beautifully if not true, that the owl became the symbol of wisdom from its property of seeing in the dark,” initiates a narrative of Pathmal’s work of art, ‘Owl’ (2018). Created purely using copper strips, this work of art epitomizes an owl staring visibly into the vicinity, silently imparting wisdom about the manner in which capitalistic and consumerist ideologies have taken a toll on the environment as well as human existence. The copper strips, as a medium produced by discarded material, stands out, symbolizing the remaining debris of economic destabilization.
‘Horse’ (2018) is a work created with iron rods that were again discarded. A horse symbolizes freedom, and the work can thus be perceived as the artist’s attempt to urge human beings to rebel against the political and economic constraints that are concealed in consumerism and capitalistic mentality, and seek freedom or self-emancipation. The iron rods are exemplary of the dynamism in Pathmal’s chosen medium, as the horse remains standing tall, ready to fight against acts of discrimination against the working class, fuelled by economic differences between classes.
ARTRA is Sri Lanka’s Art Magazine exploring curated content on Sri Lanka’s visual art, performance art, applied art and written art. Launched in 2012, ARTRA Magazine is a compact monthly art read providing a comprehensive understanding on Sri Lankan artists, art events, monthly art calendars and the Sri Lankan design landscape. In sum, all you need to know about art in Sri Lanka.
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