Shalini Ganendra Fine Art

SANJEEWA KUMARA

 

b. 1971   Sri Lanka

 

Sanjeewa Kumara’s surreal and fantastical artworks are self-declared ‘pictures’. ‘An abstract painting is a painting because it dwells primarily on the material and the surface,’ states Sanjeewa, ‘but ‘picture’ implies a space one goes into.’ The eclectic, electric-hued compositions provide far more than purely aesthetic pleasure; instead, they delve into the heart of Sri Lanka’s colonial and postcolonial legacy, and questions what is meant by the ‘self’ in South Indian art and culture.

 

His aim is to synchronise diverse historical elements into a visual pastiche, creating a unique visual language that he terms ‘Non-western Western art.’ Sanjeewa traces his artistic influence to ancient cave painters, saying ‘I love the sense that I’m doing the same thing that people have always done.’ That is not to say his work is anything ordinary; his is the art of the unexpected. His pictures recontextualise traditional myths and stories, placing them within a hybrid society of vibrant colours and ambiguous narratives. Cows, elephants, lions and deities act out mysterious new legends against bold acid-coloured backdrops and eccentric motifs, taking the viewer beyond the exotic and into the uncanny.

 

Sanjeewa has spoken of the many challenges facing postcolonial artists today, highlighting the difficulty of the attempt ‘both to resurrect their culture and to combat preconceptions about their cultural identity – against the confines posed by Western discourse.’ His own artwork tackles this thorny question with a youthful energy, blending social conscience with aesthetic playfulness to create artistic forums that call for artists and viewers question existing identities.

Uncanny Personality, 2013

Oil on canvas

20 x 160 cm

SELECTED BIOGRAPHY

 

 

Awards

 

1999  Prize and selected for Windsor and Newton World Wide Millennium Painting Exhibition, London, Stockholm, USA

 

1995-1996  G.S.A. Fernando Award, Art Department, Institute of Aesthetic Studies

L.T.P. Manju Sri Award, Art Department, Institute of Aesthetic Studies

J.D.A. Perera Award, Art Department, Institute of Aesthetic Studies

 

 

 

Select Solo Exhibitions

 

2004  Head office in Prins Claus Fund in The Hague, Netherlands

Villa De Bank in Enschede, The Netherlands

 

2003  Gallery Art Korner in The Hague, Netherlands

 

2000  Galerie De Waagh in Oldenzaal, The Netherlands

De Tjongerschans in Heerenveen, The Netherlands

 

 

 

Select Group Exhibitions

 

2015  Missing Ones, Dhaka Art Summit, curated by Nada Raza, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern

 

2013  Garden of Eden, SGFA @ Gallery Residence

 

2011  Contemporary Art from Sri Lanka, Asia House ,London.U.K.

 

2009  Colombo Art Biennale, Colombo,Sri Lanka

 

2008  ARTFUL RESISTANCE Crisis and Creativity in Sri Lanka, Museum of Ethnology Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. Austria

Expressions of Independence, The Mona Bismarck Foundation, Paris, France

Recent developments in contemporary Sri Lankan paintings, Gallery Art Korner, The Netherlands

 

2005  Sri Lankan and Australian artists Exhibition, The cross Art Projects, Sydney, Australia

 

2004  CUT & MIX Finomenal Space, Colombo, Sri Lanka

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