Solo Exhibition by Kavan Balasuriya | Saskia Fernando Gallery

Kavan Balasuriya is an artist whose work explores the practice of drawing. Lightlines, a collection of drawings and engravings, consists of pictures made with ink and aluminium foil. He is inspired by the patterns and textures of architecture found in urban and rural settings, and the relationship these design elements share with the craftsmanship of textiles. He is interested in how material and metaphorical values overlap and explores this perception in the collection. The main body of this showcase is about Kavan’s experiments with aluminium foil. His ink drawings reflect the experience and knowledge the foil has provided to his artistic practice.

The use of aluminium foil came about as Kavan considered the possibilities of making art with unconventional materials. This methodology began as an interest in the lifespan of everyday consumer products and he initially used polythene and aluminium packaging to experiment with. Lightlines particularly draws inspiration from the architectural béton brut technique of exposing untreated concrete as a means of aesthetic expression. In the show, Kavan attempts to engage with a definitive idea stated by modernist architect Le Corbusier, who also helped pioneer the technique: that architecture is a kinetic experience rather than a static one, and that architectural structures and spaces are ideally - and classically - experienced in motion. Notably due to the sensitive and reflective nature of the foil, the engraving series In Motion and Transit present the idea of static objects that function as fluid visual experiences. This juxtaposition is further implied in the act of engraving a surface in order to create a transient visual effect.

One of the essential characteristics explored with the medium of aluminium foil is the texture it makes when handled. The foil is initially mounted onto an adhesive board, where randomised creases firmly take shape. Kavan uses these forms to determine the composition of a piece, taking the surface as the ‘site’ where a unique pattern is ‘generated’ every time the foil is mounted. He then proceeds by tracing the textures with an engraving tool in an additional attempt to counteract the pervasive sense of control that drives the creative process. His discipline is about striking a balance between intuition and instruction to maintain the harmony of a composition or a series of work. He also attempts to highlight the nature of realism in abstract art as he believes the foil possesses a striking realism of its own that conversely allows perception to be a part of the medium. One advantage it has is that it allows for the simplest compositions to reveal its own fundamental qualities.

This collection addresses the fact that the planet we live on is more artificial than biological by mass. Every object, material and structure produced by humankind now collectively weighs more than every living thing on Earth. Kavan believes the utilisation of materials outside the traditional sphere of art facilitates an understanding of the synthetic landscapes we now inhabit. He argues that alternative materials are effective in exploring the boundaries of drawing and draughtsmanship. Aluminium is a widely recycled metal and its metal leaf and roll form presented
the artist with two surfaces to work on: one reflective, glossy side and one less reflective matte side, with each half providing different luminosities. The drawing B-Side is an example of the matte surface, which is slightly rougher than its opposite side. In addition to this, Kavan finds the hexagonal tessellations often visible on foil rolls reminiscent of the geometric tiling used in masonry and parquetry. He contrasts the industrial nature of the metal by referring to a history of materials that embody sustainable living, handmade craftwork and vernacular architecture: rattan, bamboo, cane and wicker structures which are often minimalist in design and application. They are architecturally omnipresent in Southern and Southeast Asia. Their function as heat-deflecting blinds, brise soleils or louvres, allow for a metaphorical interplay of interior and exterior spaces. This perceptual and spatial exchange points to fundamental themes in Kavan’s work: light and shadow, presence and absence, abstraction and realism, fact and fiction.

Kavan’s drawing practice is a cognitive process where each creative stage is determined by comprehending a series of events and transformations occurring both internally and externally. Through this discipline he is able to keep a chronological record of the changes in his thinking. The studio process is a ruthless system of trial and error where months of work can be lost due to a singular technical fault. This process requires the artist to manifest
intention and depth with every step taken along the way.

Kavan Balasuriya (born 1992, Colombo Sri Lanka) is a London based, Sri Lankan artist who has earned a BA in Fine Art (2014) and a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (2010) from Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, University of the Arts London.  Kavan has held three solo exhibitions in Colombo, as well as participating in numerous festivals including Cinnamon Colomboscope (2015, 2016), Colombo Art Biennale (2016), Colombo Fashion Week (2016, 2018), Galle Literary Festival (2018), and Serendipity Arts Festival (2018).

Kavan Balasuriya’s exhibition will be on display to the public at Saskia Fernando Gallery till the 29th October from 10am to 6pm.

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6th October, 2022 Visual Art | Paintings