Tharshana Wijesinghe

The human body is a tool of expression, a dynamic and immediate site through which we intuitively express ourselves. In the applied art of fashion, the designer takes advantage of this compulsion and uses the human body to express a unique and captivating aesthetic vision. We find the designer wear of Tharshana Wijesinghe as dynamic in its representation of a gender neutral stance. His medium of fabric and design ethos is that of artistry, as they elevate his designer wear in questioning the norms associated with the body as gendered sites of expression. His work recognizes the subversive potential of the body, and the medium itself is dynamic as he transfers his vision of an androgynous ideal from body paint onto a canvas of fabric, which we found skillfull in applying artistic principles in creating contemporary design.

A person’s natural physiology is often subjected to vulnerabilities caused by socially developed gender codes. Tharshana draws from his own experiences and anecdotes of his friends who have been uncomfortable with their gender identity and its attributes. The applied artist first experimented with body paint and visual art designs to protest against such definitions forced on the body. Now, delving into the field of fashion, he transforms clothing into a weapon that articulates confidence and power. 

Tharshana connects the audience with the urban landscape and the everyday plight of both men and women through his collection showcased at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Sri Lanka 2016. Inspired by the Baroque, Victorian and Edwardian period, his retro-futuristic designs illustrate the assimilation of power through acceptance of the body. With canvas cotton, leather and knitwear as the main forms, the six silhouettes appear to be sculptured. In the printmaking process, he used three prints: gel, sublimation and rubber to give the fabric more story, depth and layers. Each detail in his work carefully manoeuvers his thought process and the black knitted designs are inspired by tattoos. On the back of the designs, there are phrases such as ‘I’ve got stamina’ and ‘Survivor’, through which the designer conveys how fashion can become a work of art that communicates to an audience. As he connects materials and human features, he proves that beauty essentially means embracing one’s confidence.

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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3rd May, 2019 Applied Art