Jan 29 - Feb 15, 2024 | The Lionel Wendt Art Centre

Lionel Wendt sits at the cusp of modernism in Sri Lankan and South Asian art. He is significant for his role in creating a space for like-minded individuals to further their creative pursuits and for the influence he continues to exert on art practitioners of the present day. He existed in two worlds—one that was acutely aware of the rapid developments in his environment and looked towards the future, and the other that deeply recognized the beauty that existed in Ceylon.
The inaugural exhibition for KALĀ, ‘Pivot. Glide. Echo.’ continues in his tread of relentless experimentation, extrapolation of the imagination, and challenging the limits of the medium to explore unconventional ideas and lyrical harmonies. Meandering through eight decades, the exhibition provides a unique window into intergenerational dialogues that transpire between modern and contemporary artists from Sri Lanka and the diaspora.

Kalā is the Sanskrit word meaning performing art or skilled craft. Chosen as a name to represent the evolving and encompassing practices of South Asia’s esteemed modern and contemporary artists, KALĀ is South Asia’s newest educational and artistic platform, inspired by the diverse culture and modern art history of Sri Lanka. KALĀ in association with the Lionel Wendt Art Centre aims to develop a global platform inviting artists and art practitioners from across South Asia and the diaspora to build a collaborative force based on partnerships. KALĀ will evolve to meet the needs of artists and their supporting institutional partners, as well as the diverse audience who engage with them.

Pivot Glide Echo is the platform’s inaugural exhibition of artists spanning eight decades, curated by KALĀ Assistant Curator Mariyam Begum under the guidance of KALĀ Curatorial Advisor Sandhini Poddar, Adjunct Curator at Large of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. With celebrated Sri Lankan photographer Lionel Wendt serving as a catalyst, the exhibitionprovides a unique window into intergenerational dialogues that transpire between modern and contemporary artists from Sri Lanka and the diaspora.

The exhibition looks through the archive of Lionel Wendt's oeuvre to identify streams of exploration and aesthetic sensibilities that predominated his practice. Wendt's portraits of landscapes, everyday life on the Sri Lankan island, and his sensitive portrayal of the human body exhibit an engagement that poetically rendered his subjects onto film. It reveals to us a consistent pursuit of fluidity and movement, the temporal and the spatial, the sensuous and the sublime. Artists featured in the exhibition include: Lionel Wendt, George Claessen, George Keyt, Ivan Peries, L T P Manjusri, H A Karunaratne, Kingsley Gunatillake, Raki Nikahetiya, Mahen Perera, Liz Fernando, Sebastian Posingis, Muhanned Cader, Saskia Pintelon, Rupaneethan Pakkiyarajah, Anoli Perera, Vasantha Yogananthan, Cassie Machado, Kavan Balasuriya, and Muvindu Binoy.

The Lionel Wendt Art Centre, a central cultural fixture in the city of Colombo, will serve as the venue for the exhibition, that will feature many of the most celebrated modern and contemporary artists of Sri Lanka alongside a curated program of talks, workshops and events at the centre, across leading institutions, establishments, online and selected hospitality partners from 29 January to 25 February, 2024.

The Founder of KALĀ, Saskia Fernando is a Sri Lankan gallerist and entrepreneur. She is best known for her pioneering work in developing the contemporary art scene in Sri Lanka and providing a platform for emerging artists to showcase their work to a wider audience. Saskia is the founder of the Saskia Fernando Gallery, which has become a hub for contemporary art and culture in Colombo. The gallery features a range of artworks, including paintings, installations, sculptures, and mixed media, by prominent local and international artists. Saskia's vision and passion for contemporary art have helped introduce Sri Lankan art to a global stage while cultivating a deep appreciation for the region's rich artistic heritage. In addition to her work as a curator, Saskia is also an advocate for nurturing artistic talent and cultural exchange. She is committed to promoting Sri Lanka as a hub for cultural and artistic expression and has contributed to several initiatives aimed at developing local talent.

ARTRA Magazine's Lionel Wendt Photographs Edition E58 

16th January, 2024 Visual Art | Paintings