29.06.18 – 14.07.18

Island mentality refers to the notion of isolated communities perceiving themselves as exceptional
or superior to the rest of the world. This term does not directly refer to a geographically confined
society, but to the cultural, moral, or ideological superiority of a community lacking social

As an island moved towards achieving independence in 1948, a modernist movement, also known
as the 43 Group, changed the traditionally influenced Sri Lankan art scene. During the war that
began in 1983, the 90s movement seeked to break away from these westernized practices. Today
the art scene is experiencing a new momentum due to the post war environment that has opened
it up to South Asia and the world. A growing interest in the works of the 43 Group internationally
and the inclusion of established and emerging contemporary artists in presentations of South
Asian art ensure that the history of the Sri Lankan art scene is established while the future is
well sustained. Inevitably the criticism and expectations that follow this interest begin to form
stereotypes in the definitions being presented to the outside world. Whether towards the organic
way in which the art community chooses to function, or the assumed elitist approach towards
engaging with art; these criticisms place a diverse art scene into a narrow set of expectations
and preferences that find parallels with contemporary art internationally and sensationalize the
content that is more accessible.

Island Mentality seeks to change these perceptions by redefining any stereotypes and
oversimplifications associated with the outsiders perspective. As a pun on the definition of island
mentality, the five artists exhibited, Muvindu Binoy, Hashan Cooray, Pramith Geekiyanage,
Firi Rahman and Kanesh Thabendran represent a diversity in visual and verbal languages
whilst collectively they renounce any norms or criteria. By combining these works that neither
sensationalize politics nor portray one specific narrative it is the individuality of process that
makes them a part of an evolving, emerging movement. These five artists are self-taught and of
formal education backing, they work with politically conceptual content and abstract forms of
expression, they are traditional and new media practitioners.

Saskia Fernando
June 2018

Saskia Fernando Gallery