Shiva Natarajah: Jagath Weerasinghe
An artist and an academic, he is often conflicted by his drive to be both. He received his MFA from the American University in Washington DC, USA, he heads the renowned artists collective, Theertha and lectures at the Postgraduate Institute of Archeology and the University of Kelaniya. His paintings belong to the permanent collections of the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan, The Devi Art Foundation, India and the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna, Austria. This, however, is not the ultimate for Jagath. He continues to work on new projects, finding new pursuits of interest and shows immense support and passion in developing the emerging artists and galleries now beginning to pop up throughout Colombo.
The Shiva Nataraja series was the first piece of Jagath’s which I recommended to a young art collector friend of mine. My father has been a collector of Jagath’s work since his very first show and I myself had coordinated Jagath’s previous exhibitions at Paradise Road Galleries. Jagath allowed me to sift through his drawings and canvases, offering me long descriptions as we went through each piece. The excitement Jagath feels towards his art is infectious, and a discussion about a concept or a painting can go on for days, continue on in emails and finish with a phone call to ensure that the message was understood. Shiva stands upon a dwarf, and this is symbolic of the crushing of the human ego. My intrigue lay purely in the fact that here was clearly a spiritual theme amongst the abundance of politically expressive canvases which I was familiar with. There was a twist behind the concept, naturally. Peace through violence, the act of a godusing violence to induce experience of the divine. It seems inevitable that the artist cum academic connect the spiritual with the political.