P. Pushpakanthan first presented his work in a group show curated by his University Professor and established contemporary artist Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan.
The exhibition featured work by seven artists and was titled ‘Seven Conversations’. The exhibition consisted largely of his self-narrative body of work focused on the struggle the artist experienced as a child and young adult during the war.
It is in this series that Pushpakanthan first exhibited his drawing on paper, a medium and style he has continued with in this, his second solo exhibition titled ‘Disappearance’. In an effort to evolve his practice and expression as a young artist, the work confronts the subjects of disappearance, reconciliation and the still pending closure for families whose loved ones have been missing since the end of the civil war.
“This ‘Disappearance’ series is about those who disappeared in the last war of Sri Lanka. People are still waiting for their loved ones. Children miss parents, parents suffer for lost children, and spouses grieve for their missing partners. Parents whose children were forcefully recruited to fight continue to suffer as many of them still have not returned. I believe disappearance is more of an emotional torture than a question of recovering the dead bodies of consanguinity. It concerns haunting memories, imagination and fear. Therefore, through this series, I try to express the fear and imaginative possibilities that grip the relations of those who went missing. Did they die a tragic death? Are they still suffering somewhere? The relations of those disappeared now have no answers—nothing, but worries. Though they do not know whether their loved ones are suffering physical torture or not, those left waiting without knowing suffer real pain in their minds and bodies due to this gripping uncertainty,” states Pushpakanthan.
Following his group show in 2015 Pushpakanthan went on to present his first solo exhibition at Paradise Road Galleries in 2016. His work has also been exhibited at the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa, the Colombo Art Biennale, Colomboscope and group exhibitions curated by both Dr. Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan and Chandraguptha Thenuwara.
P. Pushpakanthan’s exhibition will be on exhibit at the Saskia Fernando Gallery daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from 1 September to 19 September. Tel 0117429010 for further information.