Self-portraits and colour dominate Vajira Gunawardena's work. Various heads, skulls and faces within the silhouette of a larger head are combined to encompass memories visually. In Gunawardena's earlier work he painted scenes from daily life and television with a focus on commercialism and consumerism. His latter works have begun to present more of the artist's self, in compositions of bright abstract canvases, featuring the face in many forms, expressions and colours. Gunawardena's work connects with the viewer in a lighter, direct manner. There are no hidden, darker meanings, just pure, bright fun.
The artist believes that creativity is his only response mechanism to the social politics he is faced with and a statement of his own artistic freedom that he uses in order to work without rules or trends. Gunawardena emerges from a generation of artists whom have studied with limited resources, nevertheless expressing their artistic creativity freely. Gunawardena uses motifs from popular culture combined with the traditional art practice in a similar way to that of neo-expressionists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Georg Baselitz. There is, however, a softer, quirkiness to his compositions, a characteristic that the artist uses to connect with and appeal to his audience. This experience in its entirety offers the viewer the escapism he himself craves.
'I work instinctively and intuitively. Spontaneity and experimentation play key roles in my creative process and I continuously edit my work until a unified composition and narrative emerges,' states Gunawardena. While he does not belong to a collective, he works closely with other established and young artists in promoting the contemporary art scene and staging exhibitions in galleries in Colombo.
Born in 1984 in Colombo, Chathurika Jayani is an emerging contemporary artist from Sri Lanka. Jayani's work is prominent due to her attention to intricate details and the creative methodology in which her work is presented. Jayani's art is conceptual as well as personal. The artist completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Visual and Performing Arts in Colombo and staged her first solo exhibition in 2012 at Lionel Wendt Art Gallery. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions locally and abroad.
In her latest series of work exhibited at Paradise Road Galleries, she captured the imagery of slums and cityscapes focusing on their true and raw allure. Conceptually, Jayani depicted the environment of beauty within chaos wrapped around change. Through each work she expressed her statement boldly; though slums disappear and cities rise, slums too housed histories and characters of significance.
Jayani's use of mixed media creating a layered three dimensional visual on her canvas is effective in illustrating this aesthetic. Her use of colour and detail is unique and through this mix of media Jayani establishes a story that is defined by both dimension and texture.