Hashan Cooray

ARTRA celebrates artist Hashan Cooray for his interpretation and expression for society’s darker reality, absent of the sugar-coated perspectives and his unyielding capacity to portray opinions magnificently through silhouettes and figures, objects and indecipherable visual works. His journey in visual art began simultaneously with his career in the field of advertising, leading him to discover the expansive dimensions of art. Currently represented by Saskia Fernando Gallery, and employed at Leo Burnett, Hashan’s work can be interpreted as a dissonance to art representing visions of beauty and splendour but striving to depict the unuttered, often inaccurately honeyed concepts of the truth.

Exhibited in 2017 at the Saskia Fernando Gallery, Labrats, explores the subject of social trauma standing inter-dependently with the subordinate entities of the society itself. We find his work compelling for challenging the norms of the day to day routine – which supposedly is to benefit one’s gain, but instead contributes to meaningless whims and fancies of others. “The figures in the portraits of this collection are not rats in fact, but humans. It’s a concept of how we all have desires but we’re on the journey to complete someone else’s task, he states. The subjects of his paintings embody the expectations of lab rats; the reality that although the conscious mind of a person pursues their objectives, society is subconsciously a slave to conventions, pursuing alternate objectives different to their own.

Set against boldly coloured backdrops, Hashan draws elaborate dramatic figures, darkened by the charcoal glancing either surreptitiously or indifferently towards an ominous presence or object. Contrasted by the confident colours scattered across the canvas – a play on impermanence, the story Hashan expertly paints is more sombre and melancholic to represent the pain and prejudicial reality of the common existence. His skillset lies in the ability to narrate and express strong and vivid emotions, or highlighting the lack thereof, visible through the expressions on his figures’ faces or the poses they take. His first solo exhibition, Labrats, as a collection can be recognized as proper epitaphs or eulogies, indicating the death of a soul within a living vessel caused by the corruption and scandal of the working industries as an allegory of the behavioural patterns of modern society.

Hashan Cooray’s second solo exhibition ‘Parahuman’ battles against the norms of the standard generalization that is ‘Homo sapiens sapiens’. ARTRA discovers that Hashan’s abstractions are made to question, ‘Are we the same as we were yesterday?’ 

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7th November, 2019 Visual Art | Paintings