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Jagath Ravindra

Colombo, Sri Lanka Born 1963

Acquired a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka in 1990 and a Postgraduate Diploma in Archaeology the following year; Appointed lecturer at the University of the Visual and Performing Arts and later Chairman of the National Arts & Sculpture Panel, Arts Council Sri Lanka; Awarded Young Artist of the Year in 1991 & 1993 and given special award in 1995 by the George Keyt Foundation; Awarded Best Work of Art of the Year Award at10th Anniversary Exhibition of Ceylon Society of Art in 1995; Honourable Mention at the 12th Asian Art Biennale, Bangladesh, 2006

Selected Solo Exhibitions

Paradise Road Galleries, Colombo (2005-6/1999-2002); XVA Gallery, Dubai (2005); Born Through The Earth, Paradise Road Galleries, Colombo (2004);'The Hope', Lionel Wendt Gallery, Colombo (2004); Reconstructing Man, Paradise Road Galleries, Colombo (2003); Lionel Wendt Gallery, Colombo (1997); Moods, Lionel Wendt Gallery, Colombo (1995); Moods, Lionel Wendt Gallery, Colombo (1993)

Selected Group Exhibitions

Sri Lankan Contemporaries, The Noble Sage, London, 2007; SAARC Artists Exhibition, New Delhi (2007); The October Gallery, London (2002); Isolation, Lionel Wendt Gallery, Colombo (2000)

A regular lecturer at the Institute of Aesthetic Studies at the University of Kelaniya, Jagath Ravindra is perhaps the most talented and most well-known abstract-figurative artist in Sri Lanka. His work until relatively recently was rather pessimistic in its outlook. Negative themes of isolation and destruction dominated his art. His outlook was a reflection of modern Sri Lankan society, the ugliness he saw and experienced. The artist was scarred by his time in Sri Lanka during the late 1980s. The harrowing memory of extra-judicial abductions, torture and summary executions of 60,000 young political activists and their families seared itself deeply into his consciousness. Ravindra states: I lived through the horrors of the bheeshanaya (terror) as a university student activist hiding from paramilitary death-squads. Over the last decade, all my painting has been consumed by an inner struggle, as an artist, to deal with the socio-political aftermath of this atrocity. In his work he found himself arrested by two key issues. Firstly, the reasons why he felt compelled to grapple with these terrible collective experiences? Why do it at all? What was there to gain? And secondly, how one might give visual expression to these cultural and political reflections? Out of this struggle, Ravindra says, is born my theme of the self-alienating, silent figure. I find myself constantly exploring and creating an iconography to express these thoughts visually. I try to evoke the nightmarish darkness, the fear psychosis and the angst of the period. Ravindras idiosyncratic figure of the silent human form writhing and exalting in the same motion began to take form, pictured by the artist as a form of existence that is not life, but still retaining the dignity of the human form. To Ravindra, the figure and its placement in the abstraction needed to sum up a paradoxical dichotomy: individuality versus group mentality, isolation versus community - how these concepts when taken to extremes can result in further despair for society: Man who prefers group life is displaced from his ideal and is forced into leading an isolated, quiet life. Thereby his good social ties are damaged. Therefore he cannot be active in it. Once his possibilities are ruined he is no more a complete human being but a man only by name. It was in 2003 that Ravindra felt he reached a saturation point where he no longer wished to see the negative but actively sought to look beyond with an optimistic eye. He described this as his reawakening. Today this movement toward a more positive interpretation of his thematic interests is what governs him and has prompted the works in this exhibition. They are titled as such: Flight from Darkness, Reawakening etc. The painter feels strongly that this feeling of reawakening is especially necessary in todays world with more people looking for a more positive aesthetic, a desire to escape or alienate oneself from harsh reality. He explains, that the struggle lies in searching for goodness, be it within oneself or in society, amidst all the distractions, challenges and destruction. One has to fight against negativity and darkness to emerge triumphant. For Ravindra, colour is his weapon. He uses enigmatic, bold contrasting colours to draw the audience in and make them meditate on what they are seeing. The struggle exists both philosophically and physically: From a technical perspective, it is thrilling for me as an artist to see the conflict I wish to portray coming together with the conflict between different colours on a canvas.