08.12.17 - 06.01.18

Priyantha Udagedara’s exhibition “Orientalism” involves the viewer in a type of performative exchange “to unearth -and concurrently interpret- what is beneath the deception of the exoticism in brazen display.”(1) To fully realize the significance of this body of work however requires us to look back at Priyantha’s last two exhibitions: Paradise Lost (2012) and Herbal Gardens (2015). The former handled themes of the violence stemming from the civil conflict and the latter a somewhat investigative look into the underground sex trade in Sri Lanka. Both of these bodies of works used the same technology of playing with distance and close-ness in observation to expose something to the viewer. Both used floral veneers to entice, and both revealed an insidious underbelly lurking behind. This technology is repeated in Orientalism (2017), yet it would be remiss to suggest that the art and the artist have simply stuck to a formula that works and have seized to evolve. Rather, while stylistically the differences may seem miniscule, the conceptual leap made from the last two bodies of work is nothing short of tremendous.

Sandev Handy

Saskia Fernando Gallery