The show, which will feature a range of abstract work by four Sri Lankan artists: Manoranjana Herath, Vajira Gunawardena, Sanjaya Bandara Seanavirathna and Prageeth Rathnayake, will be open to the public at the University’s City Campus from Friday 8 March-Saturday 30 March in gallery B202 in Broadcasting Place, Woodhouse Lane.
Speaking about the exhibition curator and Leeds Met PhD art student, Priyantha Udagedara, said: “Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict and current socio-political downturn has created a personal and collective crisis for its population.
“‘Beauty and Agony – new art from Sri Lanka’ is an exhibition of contemporary art by four Sri Lankan painters representing their highly personal experiences and responses about this particular crisis.
“Major western shows of Asian art have been dominated by Indian and Chinese work, and those featuring art from Sri Lanka have tended to display a traditional, uncritical view of contemporary life on the island. This exhibition showcases a side of Sri Lanka many wish to be kept out of the public eye.
“The art deals with the day-to-day life where crisis has penetrated the norm and disrupts the perceptions of an idyllic place as portrayed in tourist brochures and promotional material.”
Priyantha, who is also from Sri Lanka and has exhibited his own art internationally, said that while the work of Vajira Gunawardane at first glance appeared vibrant and colourful, a closer look revealed unsettling images of skeletons and faces bearing worried expressions, symbolising a darker side of society.
He added: “Monoranjana Herath’s work investigates fear of life in a war torn country showing blind faces surrounded by revolvers and lotus flowers while Prageeth Rathnayake’s portraits are painted in variations of grey colour, creating a ghostly appearance. Sanjaya Bandara’s work has influences from both traditional Buddhist mural art and imagery taken from posters. In Sri Lanka colourful posters are visible on every corner of the island with diverse messages such as political propaganda, advertisements and anti-government responses.”