Mahen Perera’s paintings-as sculpture-as-paintings contain subtle yet sustained moments of un-theatrical anarchy. His works are dramatic, but they do not function on the same wave-length as a tragic life event that suddenly destabilizes ones guiding constants and frameworks. Although there is destabilization, Mahen’s works are quieter: like a passing comment or question dropped by a friend that stays with you; plagues you, while quietly contributing to a changing view of the world. In other words, a moment to look back and question, re-evaluate while looking forward to discovering and learning.
Mahen Perera trained in Multi-Disciplinary Design at the National Design Centre in Colombo before going on to pursue his BA in Fine Arts from the Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore in affiliation with the Open University U.K., Many of the objects and materials featured in the artist’s works are discarded things he comes across on long walks around Colombo. For Mahen, walking sometimes aimlessly is a way of “confronting and considering the world and [himself] inside of it”. When something grabs his attention, he picks it up and takes it back to his studio. There it sits, spit out by a labyrinth of human systems: its history now salvaged. When pushed, Mahen cannot articulate the process he uses to decide what objects and materials he picks, he dismisses the question. There’s no process, he says, “I just find these objects really interesting, others might not.” It so begs the question of: what deems these objects worthy of salvage and consideration?
Mahen’s works feature knotted fabric, protruding from the canvas drenched in layers of paint. As a finished product, they cease to be their previous selves; their mono-history intersecting with two other histories. Although the objects cannot speak, it is in the convergence of these histories that Mahen Perera’s works traverse their way into a connection with the individual. After Mahen knots, stretches, soaks, covers and changes these materials, a third history comes into play; the history of the viewer. The viewer is confronted with important questions that include, what is the history of this object? How did it come to be hear in this moment? Perhaps these questions may reveal less about the object in front of them and more about the world itself?