EXECUTIVE DEMON AND OTHER WORKS | AN EXHIBITION BY CHANDRAGUPTHA THENUWARA | 2018

24.07.18 – 14.08.18

Executive Demon and Other Works presents a new body of work by Chandraguptha Thenuwara consisting of his political commentary in the form of sculptural installation discussing effects of the Executive Presidency on Sri Lanka. The artist exclaims, ‘While the talk of the abolition of power continues there is no change. Getting rid of this demon becomes paramount to change. ‘Referring also, in the artist’s characteristic style the multiple meaning of Executive’ relates to abuse and misuse of power and the repression of the needs of the Sri Lankan people. ‘Short-term goals that prioritize maintaining power rather than long-term solutions for the countries development. The parliament remains dependent; we cannot observe law and order as we had hoped in a free and fair society. Political criminals are still able to abuse the system’.

In the main installation, the Executive Demon lies fallen on the ground. The six-armed monster holds in each hand a symbol. The lion tail representing Nationalism, the figures of copulation representing the sex and gambling industries, the lotus representing the national flower and a symbol of Buddhist purity, the Goddess of Law, Themis, in a crushed state representing the current state of law and order, the Mace as a symbol of parliament and the pistol and knife combined representing organized crime. The sculpture is on the ground intentionally, to further emphasize the absence of someone to venerate it and the abundance of the symbols in each hand.

To compliment this and other sculptural works the artist will feature some of his studies alongside the continuation of his 2017 and 2018 series ‘Glitch’ to carry forward the notion of the lack of proper governance and non-functionality.

In addition, the exhibition will feature a separate collection of older works by the artist to commemorate Barrelism, a concept established twenty years ago. The works will include early works from the Barrelism series, the first-ever Camouflage work, Erasing Camouflage series and Thousand Barrels series.

Chandraguptha Thenuwara holds a Master in Philosophy of the Institute of Archeology of the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka as well as a Master of Fine Arts with Honors of the Moscow State Art Institute. Chandraguptha Thenuwara is an artist cum activist whose entire body of work is dedicated to his plight to expose political malpractice in Sri Lanka. In 1997 he began a series of work titled Barrelism in response to the change in the cityscape of Colombo during the war; the work focused on the use of the barrel as an object used in construction that transformed into an object used for obstruction. Thenuwara’s work is made up of the juxtaposition of objects and witty paronomasia’s that he continuously exhibited even during a time when Sri Lanka’s freedom of speech was strongly inhibited. The artist has moved from Barrelism on to Camouflage, Neo-Barrelism, Dhammapada, Post-Barrelism, Beautification, Electric Chair for Sale and most recently Glitch. His series of work often transform themselves to represent the current times using transformations of symbolism the artist used to illustrate a previous state of affairs. In his 2016 exhibition titled Glitch, the works presented were an abstract presentation playing on the malfunction of contemporary politics and society represented in canvas paintings hidden within the pixelated linear paintings of glitches.

Saskia Fernando Gallery