Island mentality refers to the notion of isolated communities perceiving themselves as exceptional or superior to the rest of the world. This term does not directly refer to a geographically confined society, but to the cultural, moral, or ideological superiority of a community lacking social exposure.
As an island moved towards achieving independence in 1948, a modernist movement, also known as the 43 Group, changed the traditionally influenced Sri Lankan art scene. During the war that began in 1983, the 90s movement seeked to break away from these westernized practices. Today the art scene is experiencing a new momentum due to the post war environment that has opened it up to South Asia and the world. A growing interest in the works of the 43 Group internationally and the inclusion of established and emerging contemporary artists in presentations of South Asian art ensure that the history of the Sri Lankan art scene is established while the future is well sustained. Inevitably the criticism and expectations that follow this interest begin to form stereotypes in the definitions being presented to the outside world. Whether towards the organic way in which the art community chooses to function, or the assumed elitist approach towards engaging with art; these criticisms place a diverse art scene into a narrow set of expectations and preferences that find parallels with contemporary art internationally and sensationalize the content that is more accessible.
Island Mentality seeks to change these perceptions by redefining any stereotypes and oversimplifications associated with the outsiders perspective. As a pun on the definition of island mentality, the five artists exhibited, Muvindu Binoy, Hashan Cooray, Pramith Geekiyanage, Firi Rahman and Kanesh Thabendran represent a diversity in visual and verbal languages whilst collectively they renounce any norms or criteria. By combining these works that neither sensationalize politics nor portray one specific narrative it is the individuality of process that makes them a part of an evolving, emerging movement. These five artists are self-taught and of formal education backing, they work with politically conceptual content and abstract forms of expression, they are traditional and new media practitioners.
Saskia Fernando June 2018