Abdul Halik Azeez, MMCA Sri Lanka

Abdul Halik Azeez documents a child standing in front of the remains of her recently demolished home. Surrounded by rubble, the girl holds up a mirror which captures the reflection of the city's newest development project as it looms large over the remains of her neighbourhood. The pink head of the Colombo Lotus Tower shines in the mirror's reflection surrounded by blue skies and lush green tree cover. Azeez captures a moment where two contrasting realities collide.
Speaking about the work, Azeez says, “the tower seems to signify Colombo’s process of purification and transformation from ‘unclean’ to ‘clean’…I took these pictures when evictions of residents at Vauxhall Street were taking place, to make way for a park surrounding the Beira Lake and the Tower. ‘Low income neighborhoods’ were removed so that the landscape would look ‘beautiful.’” Azeez’s photograph by contrast appears to show the Colombo Lotus Tower emerging from the debris of a community dwelling. The tower is one of several capital and infrastructure projects funded by China in Sri Lanka.

This exhibition is structured as a sequence of changing displays which bring together six encounters between artworks from the 1950s to the present. Each display revolves around and responds to a specially chosen painting drawn from the John Keells Holdings or the George Keyt Foundation art collections. The six encounters propose playful and at times contentious comparisons between the familiar and unexpected.


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February 18, 2022