Glitch +: Chandraguptha Thenuwara
Black July took place 34 years ago. The war was over 8 years ago. Tyranny was defeated 2 ½ years ago. Democracy was then established and today we have no white vans, no abductions and no threats to life by politicians and their entourage. No surveillance, no CID or other intelligence services follow me because I am vociferous.
The popular assumption was that the change in government would amount to the resolution of the countries burning issues and that the promises made by the new ruling coalition would be addressed.
A new constitution with the devolution of power and an abolishment of the executive presidency, a new electoral system, socio-economic rights and many other promises are not being fulfilled.
Distorted images are prevalent. Like a good television with lesser voltage supply, a clear image won’t appear. The ‘glitch’ in our political climate continues and it has, over the last 12 months, only increased in intensity.
13+, G.S.P. +, Corruption +, Privileges +, Taxes +, Ministers in Parliament +, Hate Speech +, Nationalism +, Buddhist Extremism +, War Heroes +, Medical Terrorism +, Bureacracy +, Protests +…
Green, red, blue, yellow are now colours representative of the lack of unity and action throughout the governing bodies in the country.
by Chandraguptha Thenuwara
23.07.17 – 13.08.17
Every year since 1997 Chandraguptha Thenuwara presents an exhibition on 23 July to commemorate Black July, the anti-Tamil riots that took place in 1983 killing people and destroying homes in the thousands. As a fellow activist artist, Ai Wei Wei states, ‘if anything, art is… about morals, about our belief in humanity. Without that, there is simply no art.’ Thenuwara has consistently made it his purpose as an artist and activist to bring to light the core political environment of the country through his work. As acting President of the Arts Council and Senior Lecturer at the University of Kelaniya, the customary deterrents have not intimidated him. It is often assumed that conceptual art can slip under the radar during times of heavy censorship and interrogations of more obvious or widespread activism, however what remains intact with Thenuwara’s consistency is a witty and well executed form of criticism that the has succeeded to present a documentation of the countries burning issues over the past decades. Thenuwara’s exhibitions have in fact created an archive of political and social violations during the war and post-war.
In 2016 Thenuwara presented an exhibition titled ‘Glitch’. The purpose of the works was to bring to light the shortcomings of the newly elected government. In his 2017 exhibition, that previews on 22 July and will open to the public on 23 July, the artist emphasizes on the concept of excess. Specifically the excess prevalent in taxes, ministers in parliament, religious extremism, protests, etc. The exhibition features paintings and installation in a similar style to his 2016 exhibition. This time the paintings are bright and bold, predominantly with the colours blue, green, red and yellow; to symbolize the powers that are most engaged in the governance and communication of politics in the country. The colours themselves are not solid, instead they are pixelated or merged with haptic brushstrokes on linear tape in an effort to resemble a television that is not transmitting its image