ARTRA Canvas artists

Throughout the period of lockdown, the world has seen many challenges and with it, countless stories. And with each story, an interpretation of its own translates into works of art as artists around the country take to the canvas as a medium of expression. Featured on ARTRA Canvas, these artists present the pandemic through idiosyncratic perspectives. The first instalment of ARTRA Canvas showcased artist's responses to the pandemic; this thematic showcase presented nuanced perspectives from the optimistic outlook to the chaos and destruction caused. Each artist featured comprehended the pandemic uniquely and expressed their interpretation through distinct mediums from digital to multimedia. We discuss six artists whose responses were depicted through dark symbolism and portrays its hostile approach.


Nilanka Perera, originally from Chilaw Srilanka, grew up in Bahrain and later on moved to Sri Lanka for his secondary education. Nilanka then majored in Multimedia Design, at Taylor's University, Malaysia. His works of art showcased on ARTRA Canvas presented a unique approach from varying states of mind as he began his experience of the lockdown and during. The works of art from 'Inner Engineering' to 'Quarantine Your Face', present eerie resonances to the pandemic and humankind's conscious thoughts. Nilanka conceptualizes 'Inner Engineering' in the way that it poses the question, 'who are human beings and who will they be?' while reconfiguring these inner programs of the mind. Other works of art like 'Quarantine Your Face' is an intriguing perspective of the real world pandemic, from masks and social distancing, humankind and the daily routines are different.


Ishaq Hamid's graphic works of art are vivid in colour and bold in message as he conveys through an animated understanding of the course and progression of the pandemic and its result and consequence on society. His creative representation allows the viewer to be able to understand and reciprocate feelings evoked by the work of art. From 'Last Supper' to 'American Gothic', each element portrayed on the artworks exist as symbols, meant to address each aspect and characteristic of the period of isolation and quarantine, imminent death and suffering. 'Last Supper' takes on a unique perspective as he paints a lone figure at a long dinner much like the original tale of the 'last supper', this work of art explores the meaning that the title itself understands.


Shahdia is an Artist and qualified Architect, who specializes in murals, digital work and fine arts along with additional projects in Architecture and Interior Design. She has completed several murals and commissioned paintings for cafes, offices, retail stores and personalized residences and is currently working on her own body of work. Shahdia's works of art follow the sense of death and flowers, these parallels posed intriguingly; flowers, in essence, are used to mask the smell of death and in her works of art, these flowers take on symbolic proses. Her artwork explores through the morbid children's rhyme, 'Ring Around the Rosie' in this storyline, utilizing flowers as a disguise over a rather eerie theme.


Based in Addalaichenai, Ampara, Salaludeen Ajith's work of art stands as metaphorical chaos in its essence to display the consequence and process of a pandemic in its procedure. The global disease that's presently wiping out large amounts of the population is one that the human race is currently struggling against, a fight for survival and a fight for a cure. In its sequence of destruction, the pandemic causes the rise of political agendas motivated by ulterior motives. Salaludeen's work of art represents this chaos in its entirety, each element a significant nuance that contributes to his interpretation.


Creative, graphic designer and artist Bonnie Fernando is a self-taught illustrator whose works are animated narrations of the real world and his perspectives. Bonnie Fernando's graphic works of art are vivid in colour and bold in message as he conveys through an animated understanding the course and progression of the pandemic and its result and consequence on humanity. His creative representation allows the viewer to be able to understand and reciprocate feelings evoked by this work of art. From 'Save Us' to 'Demented Nature', Bonnie portrays the pandemic and its consequences, its stories unconventionally; hands reaching up from their graves to dancing the volcano's crater, each component beautifully captures the people of the virus, their lives metaphorically.


Artist Lakshika's work is of introspection, an observation of darkness and light, and the opposing elements complementing and feeding on each other. She begins to understand the caustic component and attempts to eliminate it in the process of understanding the concern. She uses a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh to fully grasp the concept of her painting and comprehend her work of art, "the past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment we cannot be in touch with life." Lakshika Hewage, from the Uva province, obtained her BVA Special (Painting) at the University of Visual and Performing Arts. Lakshika Hewage, born in Badulla, Srilanka. Completed Bachelor of Visual Art in painting, from the University of visual and Performing Art, in 2019. She has participated in several group exhibitions.

These six artists from ARTRA Canvas raise questions about and understand the pandemic distortedly, morbidly and curiously; navigating their own experiences and the worldly perception, each nuance encapsulated in a work of art is articulately painted, animated, drawn and collected from cells of fascinating concepts. 'What does it mean to be human in a pandemic?' 'Is this the end of the world?' 'Who have we become?' These series and interpretations are critically comprehended, answers questions of morbidity and death, curiously treks the thin line between life and the after. While the pandemic itself may have thrown its own interesting obstacles, re-forming, and re-fixing, these artists have interpreted and understood, then depicted in their own stances and ponderings curious visions, the virus, their muse.

8th September, 2020 Visual Art | Paintings