|Sunday, 28 September 2003|
All about how men weave enchanting tales about women :
Your hair, my eyes
by Jayanthi Liyanage
Time was when an artist could depict, through his drawings, a reasoning that city was immoral, women in cities wore short-hair and that short haired women were immoral. Not any longer.
Not after a group of artists in the nineties, with Jagath Weerasinghe as its champion, spearheaded a fundamental change of attitude, relating to an artist's integrity, and his political duty towards his public.
"The first modern art movement in Sri Lanka, the 43 group, or the next one of Abstract Expressionism Art which began in the seventies with H. A. Karunaratne at the helm, did not touch the social reality of urbanism or urban lives which underwent many a painful experience with urban develoipment and the growth of capitalism," explains Weerasinghe. And in doing so, he also dismisses all claims to his pioneership and attibutes the art trend that has emerged to the fraternity of his contemporaries such as Chandraguptha Thenuwara, Anoli Perera, Kingsley Goonetilaka, Sarath Surasena and many others.
"Art can now narrate anything and has no high or low divisions as in abstract or figurative. Similarly, an artist is not considered as gifted but as a doctor, or a street sweeper, or whatever occupation he is engaged in. Therefore, he has a duty to depict the moment we live in, in the current frame of time through his art, and in doing so, be responsibile to the social and political statement he is making through his creation."
Weerasinghe will project this responsibility in his latest exhibition, "Your hair, My eyes" when it commences at Paradise Road Galleries on September 30 and continues until October 21, from 10 a.m. to midnight, daily.
In this series of work, his preoccupation is women. "It's all about how we weave enchanting tales about women," says Weerasinghe. "According to the feminist discourse, women are conceptualised through male eyes.
This concept also becomes a reality in the eyes of women who throw this perception once again at men. In male-female relationships, both partners find solace and consistency in these mythical concepts which is now a reality to them. Your hair becomes beautiful, but only through my eyes. All my drawings show women with ugly, short, fuzzy and stubborn hair," The drawings use collage and incorporate art into art, becoming a symbolic venue to portray the complexities in relationships and explode the social myths surrounding women.
Parallel to "Your Hair, My Eyes", Weerasinghe also displays another art series of "Confused Narratives" where he depicts the confusions we face in our narrations in a modern world of greatly empowered media, information technology and communications.
"This is the inevitable result of the capitalist system and democracy," he explains.
"Many are empowered to create multiple histories through art and communications which become commodities in the 'ideas market.' The post modern condition emerges from here, where there is no original and everything is a duplicate of another. Only the context differs and the duplicate becomes another original in a new context."
Weerasinghe, who acquired a Master 's Degree in Fine Arts from the American University of Washington D.C., is currently, the Chairman, Theertha International Artists' Collective and the Vibhavi Academy of Fine Arts, a Director of the Art Lab Organisation and a Senior Lecturer at the Post-Graduate Institute of Archaeology. "Sri Lankan contemporary art is what we call para-modern," says Weerasinghe. "We have not traversed across the zenith of modernism, so we cannot call ourselves post-modernist.
We are outside-of-modern."
Semage's Love and Peace in Sweden
Kalasuri Jayasiri Semage's work will be exhibited in Scandinavian countries for the first time, in a show that will commence on Oct. 6 in Sweden. The exhibition is titled 'Love and peace' and pays tribute to Scandinavian peace-building efforts in Sri Lanka.
After a spell in Sweden the exhibition will move to Finland. It has the support of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Tourist Board and SriLankan Airlines, according to a press release from the organisers.
Ceylon Association of Accordionists to be revived
Not many people are aware of the "Ceylon Association of Accordionists" in Sri Lanka. It was formed in 1956 with eleven playing members with the accordions playing orchestrated music. This was a dream of Joe Thambimuttu fulfilled. The patron of the Association was H.E. Sir Oliver Goonetilleke, the Governor General.
The first concert was held on 17.12.1956 at the Lionel Wendt. Encouragement and participation came from Dr. Valentine Basnayake, Joy Ferdinando with his Harmonica Band, Neville Fernando, Lylie Godridge, Dr. Gulasekeram, Frosty Vanlangenberg, Gazali Amit, Dr. N. Sathasivam, and many more. In the accepted tradition of Accordion Orchestras the world over, the performance opened with an overture 'Poet and Peasant'.
This concert was followed by two more concerts and by then the orchestra had collected more playing members.
The progress of the orchestra was hampered due to the illness of its leader Joe Thambimuttu.
The Association is now conducting a membership drive.
Produced by Lake House