Saskia Fernando Gallery presents a solo exhibition of new work by Pala Pothupitiye. The exhibition titled ‘Katugaha & Mythical Landscapes’ includes canvas works and sculpture by the young Sri Lankan artist. Over the last few years Pala has become one of Sri Lanka’s foremost young artists, his most recent achievement was the nomination as a finalist of the Sovereign Asia Art Prize. His work was exhibited in the nominee show in Singapore last year.
Pala’s early work focused on a series of paintings and mixed media embroidered pieces that dealt with the concepts of ancestry, tradition, identity and culture. Pala is a practicing artisan in Southern Sri Lankan ritual dancing and belongs to a dancing caste. From an early age Pala participated in Peraheras and ritual performances, however following his Bachelor of Fine Art at the University of Kelaniya Pala changed his focus from performance to visual art. His first series of work very clearly deal with his identity crisis in making this transition and the works combine traditional embroidered dancing headdresses made with random objects which he titles ‘junk’. These pieces are mounted onto boards that feature National Sri Lankan symbols.
Pala joined the Theertha International Artist Collective in 2000 and it is his work through the collective that has earned him a place in the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan and the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, UK. He has now exhibited in Singapore, Vienna, Japan, UK and Sri Lanka.
In this series of work Pala moves from the sociocultural themes which he has focused on in the past, towards geopolitical concepts which he has been working with for the past year. His recent trip to Jaffna, where he gave a presentation to the Faculty of Arts of the Jaffna University ,contributed to the new series of work which are essentially landscapes translated with Pala’s intertwining line drawings, giving the impression of a two dimensional woven image. The meaning and messages of the works themselves are for the audience to interpret alone. Pala is one of many artists who have begun to discover an entirely new world within their world. He attempts to translate the many experiences and concepts these discoveries inspire.