Priyantha Udagedara | The Leeds School of Art, Architecture and Design

Priyantha Udagedara Re-discovering paradise – Painting, representing and re-visioning of identities

(Case study of Sri Lanka).


This practice based research investigates the notion of paradise which Sri Lanka has allegorically represented in visual art. The research critically examines the relationship between the notion of paradise and its current crisis, through production of two and three dimensional artwork. Collage is the vehicle on which structures emerge in order to generate a profound textual and visual art practice.


Internal body parts appear very often within the picture plane while the painfully twisted human hands and legs stretch out from the painting. They look extremely fragile. Butterflies and birds are exploding whilst they are flying. Flora and fauna cut out from natural science books and stencil cut printed black butterflies and insects juxtapose over and over within the painting. Un-evenly splashed colour patches pertain to be gunfire and flowers bleeding. These paintings lead us through the visual mash-up which symbolically characterize pain and fear. Barbed wire moves all the way through the painting plane achieving a decorative impression. This is a new form of landscape: one which exemplifies terror and beauty in one place. The viewer of this series of landscapes take in a false sense of beauty before the revelation of the displaced sense of agonising beauty, leading the new to assume that this may be a far darker than first appearance.

I have illustrated my approaches (beauty and horror) without an exterior of earthly beauty or destructive photographic images. Without making causal connections with realistic representation, the visuals of my experiences and the memories of loss, absence and pain caused by war are symbolically illustrated in the middle ground of the painting. When the middle passage of the painting is composed with diverse visual materials, the edge of the painting becomes comparatively empty and plain space which provides boundaries to the painted space; the painted space itself appears to be as an island. This unearthly island impression appears within most of the paintings. This hypothetical island represents the tension created by difference as well as the beauty of collectiveness.

The effect of the painted space vibrates in-between the figurative form and the landscape effect. In one way this discrepancy creates an almost physical kind of impression within the painted space but, on a close inspection both of these impressions turn in to an anxious beauty. It is clear that these paintings are imaginations of painful experiences of war and political conflict and the opposing influence of nature and its beauty.


Related Images

1. Priyantha Udagedara, Paradise Lost, 2011, Acrylic and Collage on Canvas, 93 cm Diameter.

2. Priyantha Udagedara, Paradise Lost I, 2011, mixed media on canvas, 152 x 109cm


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