Muhanned Cader & Dominic Sansoni, Cancerfund Galle Exhibition

What is it about the soothing greens of nature that fill your soul or the calming blue of sky and sea that settle your thoughts? Colour, in essence, plays a significant role on the human consciousness. It is one of the more vital mediums through which we feel and understand. The science of colour is understood by splitting clear, bright light through a prism; colour is the product of light, it is energy. Thus, like most types of energies, the spectrum of colour, as we witness it, works in tandem with the frequencies within our bodies to create a ripple effect on our consciousness and influences the way we perceive and feel. Varying studies have shown the extent to which the medium of ‘Colour Therapy’ aids in healing the mind and body. Art, we find, then facilitating the process of healing and contributing significantly and critically in curing stringent illnesses and diseases. ‘Tonight No Poetry Will Serve’ aims, through these mediums to raise awareness and aid in the process of healing cancer patients.

The Cancerfund-Galle exhibition was founded by Pakistani artist and writer, Mariah Lookman; she initiated the exhibition in attempt to provide a medium through which cancer patients find solace and healing through art. The exhibition brings together twenty-four artists from across the globe to aid in this initiative. In documenting the purpose and intention of the exhibition, we conversed with artists from diverse backgrounds and nativities including Pakistani artist Ali Kazim on the impact of faith on healing and Sri Lankan artist Anoli Perera on the catharsis of touch. As we explore the ways in which colour impacts and influences the consciousness and healing, we conversed with artists Muhanned Cader and Dominic Sansoni. We find, in their work for ‘Tonight No Poetry Will Serve’, an intriguing integrating of colour – Muhanned Cader’s paintings of nightscapes and Dominic Sansoni’s innate influence by colour present unique narratives through which healing can be witnessed and aided in the forthcoming exhibition. The exhibition will begin at the esteemed Barefoot Gallery on the 25th of November 2021 till the 5th of December 2021 and will also open at the Galle Fort Art Gallery on the 28th of November 2021 till the 5th of December 2021.

“Colour is stimulating and a child's painting will make one smile. I think art helps enormously,” Dominic expressed. The artist hails from a childhood seeped heavily in artistic expression and colour; son of Barbara Sansoni, Dominic has been involved in the art world and has witnessed the products of creativity for many a year. The intricacies of colour are intrinsic to a fundamental state of understanding the world. In fact, a condition of synaesthesia allows individuals to identify sounds through the medium of visual spectrum in varying colours. Dominic’s belief in colour and its cathartic capacities stems from his early childhood and his vivid and colourful environment.

Dominic’s medium of artistic expression, however, is that of photography, “At art school I had to own up to being unable to draw so I escaped a life drawing class with a camera; literally.” His journey began as a photographer in 1980 and Dominic’s work has been showcased at several exhibitions and publications since. In 2015, ARTRA curated a collection of Black and White portraits of his friends and family, including iconic Sri Lankan artists, architects and authors photographed in intimate settings. The artist will present a series of nine photographs for the exhibition ‘Tonight No Poetry Will Serve’, “I have been interested in the number 9 since my days in school. I am enjoying working with a simple grid of 9 pictures.”

The concept of monochrome and of dual colours is analogous to that of balance and the concept of yin-yang. We find, in Muhanned Cader’s work, the ideology parallel to such an influence. The composition of elements of contrasting features that fit together in synch create vibrations of a yin and yang complex. Thus, we find, Muhanned’s paintings of day and night are scales of balance and in recognizing this balance, one finds a sense of peace and healing. Muhanned Cader’s works have often revolved around landscapes. Two very unique collections Muahnned worked on in Sri Lanka, were ‘Nightscapes’ based on the Panadura Ganga and the southern beaches and the collection he produced based on the Jaffna landscapes. He believes landscape is a universal point of reference, an aspect of nature that can be identified with everyone, “when someone sees my collections of landscape work, they tend to view it from a different perspective. And that’s what I’m trying to do with my art.” As we conversed with the artist on art’s role in healing and catharsis, he explained the intrinsic gravitational pull of art’s capacity, its ability to centre one’s consciousness and provide clarity. He expressed, in conviction, it is one of the most significant aspects of his life that keeps him grounded and sane. As we discussed the initiative of the exhibition and the contributing artists, he explained the link between each artist and personal involvement, “Everybody’s connected. Most artists are connected in some way to cancer.”

Muhanned Cader left Sri Lanka in 1989 to attend the Kendall College of Art and Design in Michigan. After two semesters, he left Michigan and enrolled himself at the School of Art Institute of Chicago between 1990 and 1994. Thereafter he returned to Sri Lanka and lectured at the Vibhavi Academy for the next 12 years and exhibited his work at the Barefoot Gallery, Paradise Road Gallery and the Saskia Fernando Gallery in Sri Lanka as well as showcasing his work in India, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Oxford and The Hague.

Dominic began his journey as a photographer in 1980, maintaining a focus upon documentary, architectural and travel assignments. Dominic has worked for renowned establishments such as Asiaweek, TIME and more as a freelancing photojournalist from 1987 to 2005 and has spent the last ten years on personal projects. The artist and photographer is the author of many prolific publications including "Island from Above" alongside Sebastian Posingis in 2015 and 2017. Significantly, Dominic has exhibited extensively throughout his career, of which some of his exhibitions include "DREAMS" at Chobi Mela VI - the International Festival of Photography, Bangladesh in 2011, "The Jaffna Home" for the Colombo Art Biennale and "Sacred Space" Kathmandu International Arts Festival, Nepal in 2012, "Colour - Ceylon" with the Friday Sari Project, London in 2018 and "Symbiotic Organisms", Bawa 100 celebrations, at Lunuganga, Sri Lanka, in 2020. Dominic has also been working on the continued documentation of a community in Colombo 13 and the vernacular architecture of South India.   

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4th November, 2021 Visual Art | Paintings