Born in 1960, artist and activist Chandraguptha Thenuwara returns for his 24th annual exhibition commemorating the events of Black July at Saskia Fernando Gallery on Friday the 23rd of July. In this year’s exhibition, titled ‘BLINDS’, lines of monochrome paint form an overlay that recreates the experience of simultaneously seeing and not seeing that the artist observes in Sri Lanka's political environment.
Chandraguptha Thenuwara has presented solo exhibitions at Maroondah Gallery Victoria, City Gallery Russia, Colombo National Art Gallery as well as group shows including Art Dubai 2016, Colomboscope 2015, Colombo Art Biennale, Bengaluru National Gallery of Modern Art, Breese Little London, Asia House London, Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki Museum of Contemporary Art, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum and the Devi Art Foundation. Thenuwara also recently presented his works at Baik Art Gallery in Los Angeles along with other Sri Lankan artists in a group exhibition, called ‘Crossing Place’. Widely known, his series of work transforms themselves to represent the current times using transformations of symbolism to illustrate a previous state of affairs. Chandraguptha Thenuwara’s abstract works address political violence and corruption, representing the malfunctioning of society as jagged, pixelated lines, or glitches on canvas and unique sculptures depicting the misuse and exploitation of power. The artist has also been featured on ARTRA Magazine E47 for his work ‘M.O.B’ where we found Thenuwara’s works of art empowering individuals and communities, and practising its roles in striving for justice to achieve the greater purpose.
As has become tradition, Thenuwara returns to motifs from his previous exhibitions, picking up and extending their narratives in context with the past year’s political events. In one work, Themis, the goddess of justice, featured decapitated in his 2013 exhibition, now sits forlorn on the floor; blindfolded with her sword and scale astrew. Another canvas work mimics the vivid colour displays of Vesak Pandols which flicker on and off, their lights further obscured by the black and gold strips that eat up the canvas. Through his use of figurative backgrounds blurred out by the venetian blind motif, Thenuwara toes the same line between transparency and opacity that he feels the island’s ruling powers blur. A series of aluminium works, an unusual medium choice, highlights how Thenuwara retains his relevancy as a creator, 24 years into this annual exhibition.
'BLINDS' will open on the 23rd of July 2021, and appointment-based viewings will be available throughout the day. Advance registration is required due to Covid-19 health and safety guidelines and will be limited to 10 slots per hour. The exhibition is open to the public thereafter from Monday - Saturday 10am - 6pm until the 20th of August.
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