Jagath Weerasinghe Sri Lankan , b. 1954


Jagath Weerasinghe is pivotal to the exposure of contemporary Sri Lankan art, and has been a significant driving force in its development since the early 1990s. His own art, mostly as a painter and draughtsman, is deeply informed by his society’s actions. His work examines and critiques Sri Lankan anxieties, responding to collective attitudes – as he identifies them, taking themes such as nationhood, religion, identity, and confrontation for commentary. The artist’s work reflects his unresolved dialogue with his subjects, as shown through a number of series of recurrent themes.


Jagath Weerasinghe holds a Master of Fine Arts from the American University in Washington DC. As a co-founder of the Theertha Collective and the moving force behind collaborations such as the Colombo Art Biennale, Weerasinghe has lectured on the local contemporary art scene internationally alongside his work as the Head of the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology. The combination of his role as an artist and archaeologist is evident in his body of work.


Weerasinghe has been a significant driving force in the development of Sri Lankan art since the early 1990s. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from the American University in Washington DC. 


He obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours in Painting at the Institute of Aesthetic Studies, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka in 1981. In 1985 he received a Conservation of Wall Paintings, International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) in Rome, which was followed in 1988 by a Conservation of Rock Art from the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles. In 1991 Weerasinghe obtained a Master of Fine Arts in Painting at the American University, Washington, D.C.


Weerasinghe coined the phrase ‘90s Art Trend’, recognising at the time the need for a cohesive framework to describe the activity of his peer group. This adopting of a phrase as framework by Weerasinghe acted as a catalyst for theoretical inquiry into the politically conscious contemporary art praxis of the 1990s in Sri Lanka. He was commissioned by the Sri Lankan government to design the monument ‘Shrine for the Innocent’ as a remembrance for the innocent victims of the violence that the southern part of the country experienced in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the work completed in 1999. He co-founded the Theertha International Artists Collective in 2000, and served as its Chairman till 2017. Theertha continues to foster new artists and initiatives. He describes current Sri Lankan artists as living in an era of ‘para-modernism’. 


Weerasinghe's works have been exhibited in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, India, Netherlands, Germany and Japan.


He has received numerous awards, including the David Lloyed Kreeger Award, American University; Bunka Cultural Award, Sri Lanka; Hirayama Silk Road Fellowship; Visiting Fellow, Institute of Archaeology, University of London; ICCROM Fellowship for Conservation Studies, ICCROM, Rome; Visiting Fellow, Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies, South Africa and Visiting Scholar, University of California at Berkeley and at University of Texas. 

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