LT ARTicle January 2013 | Top Ten New Contemporary Artists & Designers of 2012 By Saskia Fernando

As predicted the year of the dragon brought with it some fantastic new entrants into the local art and culture scene. Young artists and designers presented their work in numerous exhibitions at home and overseas. Here is the hand-picked list. These people are upping the bar on the local contemporary art and design and in 2012 they proved it. Bravo !

Prageeth Manohansa – sculptor
You know we love this guy, not only because his sculpture kicks a** but also because he is the most deserving human being you will ever meet. Ok enough of the emotional sop. In 2012 Manohansa staged a solo exhibition in Singapore, continued to create works which we quite literally ship to collectors all over the world and now he is preparing for an exhibition in Goa next year. www.saskiafernandogallery.com

Sujeewa Kumari – multi media artist
Sujeewa Kumari is one hell of a woman. Her work is not feminist, and still it oozes powerful conceptual imagery that focuses on the strength of femininity. Between being wife to famed artist Sanjeewa Kumara (yes, their names were a coincidence… gotta love it !), mother of one, part-time lecturer, Kumari staged a large solo show of works on paper and canvas at Paradise Road Galleries in Colombo. Fans include the highly opinionated, local “voice of contemporary art“ Jagath Weerasinghe. www.saskiafernandogallery.com

Mika Tennekoon – artist & illustrator
Mika Tennekoon has got it all, the beauty, the personality and the talent. We adored her from the first time she timidly presented her portfolio at Pecha Kucha Colombo and it seems since then this flower has bloomed. She is getting ready for her first solo show at SF Gallery in January and she keeps turning out illustrations that represent that straightforward, no bullshit, this-is-what-I´m-thinking, raw skill. www.saskiafernandogallery.com

Jacob Pringiers – industrial designer
2012 saw Jacob Pringiers launch his furniture brand A+ in Sri Lanka. No stranger to furniture design, Pringiers, an industral designer by profession, grew up in Sri Lanka. A+ furniture is minimal, sleek and just what the doctor ordered. A perfectionist on finish, Pringiers furniture goes so well in our gallery that some people start asking if they are an installation. www.aplus.lk

Nadia Haji Omar – painter
She has just started her Masters program at the School of Visual Arts in New York and Haji Omar sends us a lovely cardboard packet now and again with her outstanding mixed media drawings on paper. We can´t wait for her next solo show which for logisticl reasons may take a while but in the meantime she is catching the eye of collectors who are eagerlz awaiting with us. www.saskiafernandogallery.com

Samuel Niruban P413 – street artist
Its not just because he turns up in a suit and tie for every meeting but P413 has talent that is literally on the verge of making it big in the local contemporary scene. He has his first solo show scheduled for the middle of 2013 but in the meantime P413 focuses on mentoring young teenagers in street art projects. It´s enough to win any heart over and then slam some pure talent on top and we have something worth waiting for ! www.twitter.com/p413life

Jananda Laksiri – multi media artist
I admit that I am always weary that the Theertha Collective idolizes Jagath Weerasinghe (their mentor) to the point of imitation, but I am starting to feel overcritical and there seem to be a couple of unique identities in this lot. Jananda Laksiri´s work stood out at the Colombo Art Biennale this year and he is certainly the new one to watch from the collective. www.theertha.org

Souk 58 – lifestyle brand
It may be more because it is so refreshing to find a brand that is not trying to imitate the Pater but I was pleasantly surprised by this little store in the Galle Fort in August. The cushion covers inspired by the Sigiriya frescoes and tuk tuks respectively are fabulous. They could do a little better on their visual merchandising and perhaps leave out the colourful knives and cupcake holders from Marks and Spencers but their original products and designs make this new store a must visit in Galle. www.souk58.com

Ayne Nalir – jewellry designer
This 23 year old Sri Lankan born designer has what it takes to shine. She makes each and every piece by hand and designs bespoke pieces on request. A tad pricey but handmade which makes them worth it. The first range featured mostly zips but we hear the next season has something different in store. With one collection in the bag she has already been featured in the London Financial Times . Exciting ! www.ayne.co

Frisky Box– sock & underwear brand
They are taking the world by storm. Paul Smith has had fantastic sock designs for ages, and now Rakhil Fernando, the design savvy son of Ramani Fernando, has launched his own sock and underwear line throughout Asia. The socks overtake the underwear on coolness factor and it´s nice to see that these little bits of fashion are coming out of our little island (even if they are produced in China)! www.friskybox.com

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