STARK SYMBOLISM & BLOODTHIRST NARRATIVE
Pakkiyarajah Pushpakanthan’s most recent solo exhibition ‘Disappearance’ which was held at Saskia Fernando Gallery earlier in June consolidated a critically expansive body of work that proved the integrity of the artist profoundly. We found his use of stark and vivid symbolism in his artistic practice powerfully seeking a process of reconciliation whilst standing against the violence and discrimination all too often found screaming through the veins and armies of opportunistic ideological fundamentalism. Currently serving as a lecturer at the Eastern University of Batticaloa, in the recent past Pushpakanthan has participated in multiple art festivals in Sri Lanka and overseas, including the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa, India (2016), Conceiving Space - Colombo Art Biennale (2016), solo exhibition ‘Inequality’ at Paradise Road Galleries (2016) etc.
Pushpakanthan was born in 1989 and spent a portion of his time growing up in Vavuniya, Batticaloa. In the despairing circumstances of the Sri Lankan civil war, the murder of his father by unknown assailants forced his family to move to Kalladi, situated in the Batticaloa district. Pushpakanthan’s passion for art was provided for with guidance through these testing circumstances, being inspired into the field as he looked up to the workings of his elder brother who was also in the process of practicing as an artist.
Pushpakanthan enrolled at the University of Jaffna, at the Department of Art & Design where, alongside the ongoing trials of intensive practice, made use of the granted exposure and opportunities to meet many leading contemporary Sri Lankan artists. They included the likes of Pala Pothupitiye, Pradeep Talawatte, Muhanned Cader, Jagath Weerasinghe, Chandraguptha Thenuwara and was particularly devoted to anspired by the teachings and stylistic vision of T. Shanaathanan, the head of the Faculty of Arts at d inthe Jaffna University. This served as the stimulation for the process of refinement necessary to spearhead the young artist’s personalised critical vision deeper into the field of contemporary art. The tumultuous times experienced by all who lived there share a connection with the current Jaffna school of artistic thought, with Pushpakanthan in particular being a recognised and outspoken voice for injustices committed...
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