Chandraguptha Thenuwara (b.1960) Artist cum activist, has staged a self-curated exhibition at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery annually since 2006. The series of works he began creating in response to the change in the cityscape of Colombo during the war began in 1997 with his Barrelism series; in reference to barrels formerly used in the process of constructing roads began to obstruct them. This paronomasia thereafter consistently appeared in Thenuwara's exhibitions, presenting the social and political situation of Sri Lanka even during a time when such freedom of speech was inhibited. From his Barrelism series he continued to Camouflage, Wall of Death, Neo-Barrelism, Dhammapada, Post-Barrelism, Black paintings, Vigil, the Monument, Beautification and, most recently in 2014, Monotony. These exhibitions courageously and publicly presented his views of Sri Lanka during the war and specifically during the Rajapaksa regime.
Paper Canvas Project
Paper Canvas, Colombo's first group show of contemporary art posters opened at the Saskia Fernando Gallery on 15 September 2011. The title is self explanatory, but plays on the fact that these works mark the transition we are making towards new mediums of contemporary art locally.
From Toulous-Lautrec to Shepard Fairey, posters have been a medium of contemporary art for quite some time. In Sri Lanka we are more accustomed to posters of another type. Political Campaigns, funeral announcements and mass media advertising lead the majority of Colombo residents to spray paint their walls with 'Stick no Bills' signs. Coincidentally even our printer didn't quite conceive why we would want to offset print only 20 pieces of one particular poster. This made it only more tempting for us to stage this particular show, working with a combination of incredibly talented artists who all stand out through their designs, illustrations, photography, etc. We boast an untouched wealth of expression that exists in the growing community of graphic designers and illustrators that are accumulating locally.