Exhibition : Talking Pictures | Sunday Observer

Exhibition : Talking Pictures

21 February, 2021

Sanjeewa Kumara’s latest exhibition, “Talking Pictures,” grapples with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic: its immediate impact on people’s everyday lives, its revelations about inequalities that had escaped notice or been hidden away from the public eye and the fear of the unknown, commenced at the Gallery Café 2 Alfred House Road, Colombo 3 on February 11 and will conclude on March 4.

Questions outweigh any sense of certainty – do we return to normalcy or do we tear the status quo down, and rebuild? In a time when connection is limited – and potentially dangerous – we look towards shared symbols, traditions, art and music, rooting ourselves in these shared cultural experiences to feel connected to our communities.

Scars of pandemic

Sanjeewa’s latest exhibition does not claim to have the answers to all of our questions. Instead, his work reveals his unconscious – attempting to unearth his own questions and reveal the unknown scars of the pandemic, oozing out of his mind directly onto his paintings and drawings.

Sanjeewa surrenders himself to the physical moment of painting, eschewing formulation, planning and pre-sketching to mimic the upheaval and loss of orientation all of our communities are facing today. His alien dreamscapes are the product, not of his hand or mind, but of his unconscious.

Born in 1971 in Colombo, Sanjeewa Kumara began his artistic training at the University of Kelaniya in 1999, completing his Master of Fine Arts at the Dutch Art Institute in the Netherlands in 2003.

As a visiting lecturer at the University of Kelaniya and the University of Visual and Performing Arts in Sri Lanka, Sanjeewa believes in sharing the knowledge that he has acquired in his career as an artist.

Sanjeewa has had work displayed internationally, from Austria and Germany to New York and London. He has represented Sri Lanka at the Dhaka Art Summit in Bangladesh and in the Netherland’s Gallery Art Korner’s selection of “Recent Developments in Contemporary Sri Lankan Paintings.”

He was a finalist for the 2015 Sovereign Asian Art Prize in Hong Kong and has earned a name for himself through his unique use of both local and universal symbols which come together to create works that are layered in the artist’s life, the country he grew up in, and the stories he has learnt along the way. Sanjeewa calls his works “pictures” rather than “paintings” to highlight how they are not limited by their medium; instead, they transcend material boundaries – projecting outward and guiding the viewer to look inward.