Art and architecture exhibitions | Sunday Observer

Art and architecture exhibitions

23 January, 2022
From left: Sharmini Pereira, Chief Curator, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Sri Lanka, Anushka Rajendran, Festival Curator, Coloboscope, Natasha Ginwala, Artistic Director, Colomboscope, Carmeline Jayasuriya, Head of CSR, John Keells Holdings PLC (Kala Pola), Saskia Fernando, Director, Saskia Fernando Gallery, Shayari De Silva, Curator, Geoffrey Bawa Trust and Puja Srivastava, Manager, Barefoot Gallery Colombo
From left: Sharmini Pereira, Chief Curator, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Sri Lanka, Anushka Rajendran, Festival Curator, Coloboscope, Natasha Ginwala, Artistic Director, Colomboscope, Carmeline Jayasuriya, Head of CSR, John Keells Holdings PLC (Kala Pola), Saskia Fernando, Director, Saskia Fernando Gallery, Shayari De Silva, Curator, Geoffrey Bawa Trust and Puja Srivastava, Manager, Barefoot Gallery Colombo

Six of the country’s leading arts organisations have announced projects and events that celebrate Art, Architecture and Design during the first half of 2022

The year 2022 marks the start of a series of important and unmissable art and architecture events taking place in Colombo involving artists from across the country and overseas. Six of Sri Lanka’s leading arts organisations are coming together to raise awareness and promote their projects to the city’s residents and tourists. Each of their upcoming projects clearly position Colombo as a must-see destination for local and international art.

The participating galleries and institutions are Colomboscope, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Sri Lanka (MMCA Sri Lanka), the Geoffrey Bawa Trust, the John Keells Foundation in partnership with the George Keyt Foundation, Saskia Fernando Gallery and Barefoot Gallery Colombo.


Natasha Ginwala, Artistic Director, Colomboscope said, “We are celebrating the seventh edition of the interdisciplinary art festival Colomboscope that will be the first event to start off art events in the city from January 21 to 30, 2022. This edition of the festival will bring together over 50 Sri Lankan and international artists, especially fostering South Asian dialogue and encounters with cultural practitioners from the Diaspora with exhibitions and events spread over six locations in Colombo.

Embarking from the words of poet-artist Cecilia Vicuña: ‘Language is Migrant’ – artistic and literary contributions map hybrid belonging, Diaspora lineages, and coerced dislocation. Across six chapters, this edition explores how language relations form our selfhood and affinities that outweigh the bind of nationhood and citizenship.

Between the counterpoints of stillness and motion, we situate practices that critically explore emancipatory and forced mobility—for we cannot deny that the world as we know it is composed of movement at galactic, human, and atomic levels. Artists compose, decipher and perform as vital travellers and storytellers of our times. Often, repairing relations by drawing material articulations from deep losses, silence and erasures while inventing language forms as bridges between communal narratives, official records, and submerged histories.”

The second event, will be by The Geoffrey Bawa Trust, and it will commence on February 1, 2022. It is Essential to be There is the first major exhibition that draws from the archives to look at Bawa’s practice.


Organised in four thematic sections, exploring relationships between ideas, drawings, buildings and places, the exhibition explores the different ways in which images were used in Bawa’s practice. Over 120 documents from the Bawa archives, most of which have previously never been shown publicly, will be on view, including a section on unbuilt work and Bawa’s own photographs from his travels. Although Bawa’s work has been exhibited at multiple venues in the UK, USA, Australia, India, Brazil, Singapore and Germany, this is the first exhibition on Bawa’s work to be shown in Sri Lanka.

The exhibition is curated by the Geoffrey Bawa Trust’s curator Shayari de Silva, and includes new photographs and video works by Sebastian Posing is, Dominic Sansoni and Clara Kraft Isono. The exhibition is on view from February 1, until April 3, 2022 at The Stables at Park Street Mews in Colombo 2.

Open daily from 11 a.m.–7 p.m., it is presented in the English, Sinhala and Tamil languages. The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive public program of talks, tours and workshops as well as a website with additional digital content to enhance accessibility of the works on view.


This exhibition received generous financial support from the primary partner Kohler, local partners Nations Trust Private Banking, Crystal Property Group, JAT Holdings and the venue partner, Park Street Mews.

Sharmini Pereira, Chief Curator, MMCA Sri Lanka, said, “We are delighted to work alongside such a stellar lineup of arts organisations in Sri Lanka to promote art and architecture in the country. We hope this drive creates awareness about the high calibre and diversity of art activities taking place in Sri Lanka. MMCA Sri Lanka will be launching our second exhibition titled ‘Encounters’.

The exhibition will run from February, 11, to August, 28, 2022 and will be presented at our new location inside Crescat Boulevard. ‘Encounters’ brings together 56 artworks as part of an exciting series of changing displays that draw from the art collections of the George Keyt Foundation and John Keells Holdings as the starting point. The exhibition will include work by 18 modern and contemporary artists and will include a 6-month trilingual public program that is free and open to everyone.

‘Encounters’ is generously supported by the John Keells Foundation, the European Union and the Foundation for Arts Initiatives. Artworks have been kindly loaned to the exhibition from collectors in Sri Lanka and overseas.

John Keells Foundation, the CSR entity of John Keells Group, announced that they together with The George Keyt Foundation are organising the open-air Kala Pola event in August/September 2022. In 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, Kala Pola went online for the first time on hosted by John Keells Foundation, and following its success and to continue to empower artists during the pandemic, Kala Pola went online once again in the form of a Christmas edition in December.


Kala Pola has evolved as an eagerly anticipated event in the arts and culture calendar of Sri Lanka providing a platform for over 300 visual artists to connect with over 30,000 visitors from around the world each year, as a launch pad for emerging artists and a forum for artists and art professionals to network and learn while promoting public social dialogue through the powerful medium of art.

John Keells Foundation also noted that the Gratiaen Trust – which it partners as primary sponsor – will be organising the annual Gratiaen Prize event in late June/early July and is also planning a series of events to mark its 30th anniversary this year.

The Trust was founded by Sri Lankan-Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje with his Booker prize money for `The English Patient’ and its objective is to promote Sri Lankan creative writing in English and translations of Sinhala and Tamil literature into English.

Its flagship event is the Gratiaen Prize which is awarded annually to the best work of creative writing in English submitted by a Sri Lankan resident in the country.

For the first quarter of 2022, in addition to the monthly calendar of exhibitions, Saskia Fernando Gallery (SFG) is pleased to announce the participation of artists Chandraguptha Thenuwara and Saskia Pintelon in the forthcoming Venice Biennale 2022, Italy.

The fund

The installations by both artists will be a part of the Personal Structures Exhibition presented by the European Cultural Centre Venice. This January, SFG is also kicking off the first projects of the A4A Production Fund, established in 2021 in collaboration with the Udayshanth Fernando Foundation, with the aim of lending support to emerging contemporary Sri Lankan artists.

The fund will support three Sri Lankan artists in the creation, exhibition and publication of their selected project. Finally, the #SupportLocalArt Talk Series supported by Nations Trust Bank Private Banking, established in 2021 with the intention of creating a much needed platform for conversation on the developments of the Sri Lankan art industry, will establish an independent youtube channel as an archive of previous talks and in keeping with the objective of the talk platform to engage the entire industry, SFG will be passing the baton to the MMCA for the next round of conversations.

Puja Srivastava, Manager, Barefoot Gallery Colombo, said, “Barefoot was established in 1993 and has been a progressive gallery. We have been known as a venue for various contemporary and modern Sri Lankan artists, we also direct the work of artists from overseas. An exciting new development is the revival of the area above the Gallery known as 'The Barefoot Loft'.

Our objective with The Loft is to enable the Gallery to expand and showcase more artworks and all other forms of expression - turning this intimate Loft into a working area.”