Chandraguptha Thenuwara is a skilled artist who crafts a vital message through his art. After studying
under the master Tahir Salakhov at the Moscow State Art Institute, Thenuwara often recalls the tough
curricula and teaching methods helping instil a discipline that earned him the title of ‘Sri Lanka’s best
portrait artist’ for his portrait of the late Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, belonging to the
Parliamentary collection. Chandraguptha Thenuwara’s first exhibition of ‘Barrelism’, titied ‘In
Dependence’ took place in October 1997. Thenuwara is not an artist who finds inspiration away from
the experience of contemporaneous realities, or stays silent about his views on the past and current
state of Sri Lanka. His work has purpose and meaning. “I wanted to express [my] thoughts through the
drawing, painting and installing of barrels: to provoke discussion” writes Thenuwara, who channels his
knowledge of current affairs into a continuous struggle to interrogate vital events and issues through art.
Thenuwara returned home after receiving his MFA with honours. Between 1997 and 2009 he staged
numerous solo exhibitions in Sri Lanka and Russia. His works belong to the permanent collections of the
Fukuoka Art Museum, Queensland Art Gallery, John Moore’s University Collection and Fine Art Museum
of Udmurtia, Russia.
From portraits to abstract contemporary art, this retrospective looks at the career of an artist who
unflinchingly interrogates our reality and in the process, asks us to engage with what his art depicts and
is based on. The skill in rendering the hidden and communicating beauty through simplicity are
hallmarks of Thenuwara. Through Barrelism, we see this artist at his best and most provocative.