The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Sri Lanka

Established in 2019, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Sri Lanka is an initiative that intends to establish a public museum dedicated to the display, education, research, and conservation of modern and contemporary art. Opening its second exhibition, ‘Encounters’ launched at the Crescat Boulevard on the 10th of February, 2022. The Museum is a long-term initiative that was established in efforts to set out to serve the communities that they are located within through commitments to inclusivity, collaboration, sustainability and transformation.

Does a chance encounter between one thing and another alter how something familiar or commonplace is otherwise seen? Can two artworks placed side by side reveal something new about each of them? This exhibition is structured as a sequence of changing displays which bring together six encounters between artworks from the 1950s to the present. Each display revolves around and responds to a specially chosen painting drawn from the John Keells Holdings or the George Keyt Foundation art collections. The six encounters propose playful and at times contentious comparisons between the familiar and unexpected.

“‘Encounters’ is the MMCA Sri Lanka’s second exhibition. The starting point for the exhibition are six artworks; each one of those belong to two very important collections of modern and contemporary art in Sri Lanka. Those two collections are the George Keyt Foundation collection and the John Keells Holdings Group collection. Rather than showing two collections in their entirety, Sandev Handy and I decided we would do something different – we decided to choose six works from these two collections. From the George Keyt Foundation collection, we chose four paintings by George Keyt and from the John Keells collection, we chose a Senaka Senanayake painting and a large body of paintings by Gamini Ratnaweera. Using each of these six works as our starting point, Sandev and I have then introduced other artworks that go back to the 1950s and come right up to the present. Each of these six displays are all independent from one another but they all explore the idea of an encounter between one or more artworks in some shape or form. There are six very broad themes surrounding each of the displays: the non-aligned movement, an image of a lotus, love and friendship, representations of family, representations of birds and their connection to our environment, offering and lastly the Osariya. ‘Encounters’ is however, structured in three rotations over the course of the next six months.”

The museum will display the ‘Non-Aligned Movement’ throughout its exhibition course from February to August with work from Abdul Halik Azeez, Afro-Asian Writers’ Bureau, Aubrey Collette, Martin Wickramasinghe, Permanent Bureau of Afro-Asian Writers, and Senaka Senanayake. ‘Encounters’ will take place in three rotations beginning from the 10th of February to the 10th of April showcasing work by Pradeep Thalawatta, Asai Rasiah, George Keyt, Richard Gabriel and Susiman Nirmalavasan. The second rotation will take place from the 5th of May to the 19th of June exhibiting work by Firi Rahman, Gamini Ratnavira, Ismeth Raheem and Laki Senanayake. The third and last rotation of ‘Encounters’ which takes place from the 14th of July to the 28th of August will feature work by A. Mark, George Keyt, Nelun Harasgama and Janani Cooray.

Through a strong education focus that celebrates diversity and new voices, the museum champions the dispersal of the nation’s artistic discourses. Embracing inclusivity, which is at the heart of its existence, the MMCA follows a trilingual policy on all written materials. At the media briefing, the founding committee members stated that The MMCA intends to build a permanent home for itself to house a collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, which will be the first publicly accessible collection of its kind in Sri Lanka. The Museum has also placed critical significance in addressing the urgent conservation in preserving works of modern and contemporary art.

The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Sri Lanka is founded upon the values of learning and discovery that sets forth a pioneering education programme that aims to demystify how art is perceived, how it is discussed, and who it is for. The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Sri Lanka launches at a time when definitions of what a museum is and whom it is for are being reexamined and questioned widely around the world. These key questions will accompany the development of the country’s first modern and contemporary art museum as it looks to the perspectives and histories that are unique and relevant to the contexts of Sri Lanka. 

Are you part of an organization looking to promote cultural diversity? We will be happy show you the scope of Sri Lanka's finest Modern & Contemporary artists through our services and counsel in the form of talks a dynamic presentations and inventive engagements. For more details, call us on +94772305054 /+ 94114545355or email us on artservices@artra.lk

17th February, 2022 Visual Art | Paintings