SUTRA | An Exhibition by Nuwan Nalaka

Nuwan Nalaka’s compelling works float between the temporal and the spiritual, remaining in neither. Instead they are always on the move—always becoming. Every painting carries a visible or invisible destination, suggesting a grand ending—be it in the sky, behind a mountain, or a in a mystic form lurking through a thicket. The artist has created resonant compositions that threaten to swallow the viewer whole, into an eternal landscape of blacks, and whites with complex interactions of motifs and symbols that will reward sustained looking. In depicting a timeless moment of seeking and traveling; these works present the viewer with the agency to pause, reflect and decide, thereby exercising a sense of responsibility for the path they wish to take. In bringing these works together this exhibition will afford an opportunity to experience Nuwan Nalaka as an artist, but more importantly as a spiritual cartographer.

.Nuwan Nalaka is an emerging artist in Sri Lanka who is better known for his watercolor on paper works that the artist presented in solo exhibitions in Colombo, Galle and Kandy, prior to his departure to India. Nalaka has also participated in numerous shows in India since 2003. The artist is back after having completed his Masters in Fine Art at the Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata, India. Of his time in India, Nalaka says, “This was an experience that was one of the most important for me to-date, moving from my native land to interact and understand modern Indian culture. Over the past decade I lived in an atmosphere where religion and culture differed greatly from Sri Lanka.” These cross-boundary experiences have had a profound impact on his recent work. Sutra by Nuwan Nalaka is free and open to the public from 12th October till the 26th October 2017 at Saskia Fernando Gallery, 41 Horton Place Colombo 7, Open daily 10am to 7pm. Tel 0117429010.  Email [email protected]


Artist’s Statement

The Lotus Sutra, a scripture that is often considered to be one of the most important in the path to enlightenment, teaches how even deluded people will follow this path. The lotus symbolizes the bodhisattva who is rooted in the earthly mud and yet flowers above the water in the open air of enlightenment.

My works incorporate the themes of nature, architecture, Buddhist philosophy and Hindu mythology. I choose to narrate a conceptual meditative sensation by using imagery combined that translates the vernacular of this island. Rather than document contemporary issues my work seeks a deeper understanding and reality of social and cultural norms. I use a limited colour palate in my paintings, mostly black and white; this is done to strip down to bare essentials.

The symbol of the lotus itself represents calm and peace. The visual outcome of this depiction is this representation in itself. From impressionist Monet, to Fare-Eastern Calligraphic brush painting and classical representation in Ajanta, Pala and Jain manuscripts as well as Indian miniature painting. The profound use of the image worldwide as well as in Sri Lanka implicates its symbolic power. These are the characteristics that inspired me as an artist to explore the theme and teachings to further understand how my work can create a sense of relief amidst the turmoil we know.