By Saskia Fernando
On 15 September 2011 the exhibition of contemporary art posters was opened at the Saskia Fernando Gallery on Dharmapala Mawatha, the Paper Canvas Colombo’s first group show of contemporary art posters. Colombo boasts a fast evolving art scene, where artists, designers, photographers, and creative people of all backgrounds combine their practice thereby expanding and diversifying our art and culture.
Exhibitions take place on a monthly basis at galleries scattered throughout the city, and young people are becoming increasingly interested in what is happening around them. The Saskia Fernando Gallery keeps a continuous eye on these changes and its new project that was launched in July 2011, marked a change in the gallery’s vision for the future of contemporary Sri Lankan art. The exposure it received as a gallery to the advertising and design industry was a particular eye opener towards the talent that exists in these industries and this exhibition has enabled the gallery to collaborate with a range of artists from both these industries with differing backgrounds and creative identities.
From Toulous-Lautrec to Shepard Fairey, the posters have been a medium of contemporary art for quite some time. In Sri Lanka, people are more accustomed to posters of another type. Political campaigns, funeral announcements and mass media advertising lead the majority of Colombo residents to spray paint their walls with ‘stick no bills’ signs. Coincidentally even the printer for this project didn’t quite conceive why the gallery would want to offset print only 20 pieces of one particular poster. This made it only more tempting to stage this particular show, working with a combination of incredibly talented artists who all stand out through their designs, illustrations, photography, etc. Locally Sri Lanka boasts an untouched wealth of expression that exists in the growing community of graphic designers and illustrators that are accumulating locally. It was during the last event that the idea came about to step out of the gallery’s existing realm and work with some incredibly talented designers on this show, ‘Paper Canvas’. The title is self-explanatory, but plays on the fact that these works mark the transition being made towards new mediums of contemporary art locally.
Nisayuru Basnayake is currently working at Triad as an art director. He has had an interest in sketching from a very young age and continues to work on new pieces in his free times; be it on a sketchpad, a canvas or his computer screen. He uses the sketches, paintings, and poster designs as a medium to translate the swatches of everyday life that inspire him.
Asvajit Boyle and Deshan Tennekoon are colleagues and reluctant friends who specialise in book design. Amongst other commissions, they have produced histories for John Keells, the Wolvendaal Foundation and the Ceylon Tobacco Company; a coffee table book for the Swiss and Austrian Red Cross, and the publication design for The Galle Literary Festival. They are currently designing one of the two annual special editions for Raking Leaves and what they suspect is Sri Lanka’s first trilingual dictionary.
Jacob Pringiers is a designer born in Gent, Belgium. He spent most of his childhood in Sri Lanka. To pursue his passion for design, he lived in Italy, Switzerland and in California, where he was accepted at the renowned Art Center College of Design. After graduating, he moved back to Milan and opened his design studio, together with Luca Casini. They successfully collaborated on the most diverse design projects for companies such as, Colgate, Nike, Luxottica, Wmf, Bic, Riva, Fiat, to name but a few and won a number of industry awards for their work, the most recent being the prestigious Trend product of the Year award, 2011 in Frankfurt with ‘LULU’, a collection of ceramic vases.
Mika Tennekoon works as an illustrator and graphic designer. Starting out as a design student and spending six years in advertising in graphic design, Mika has now found her niche as an illustrator and graphic designer with some photography thrown in for good measure.
She now has an eclectic portfolio ranging from illustration for London based entertainment and culture magazine, The Other Side, illustration for the Identity101 limited edition t-short project, publication design or the Galle Literary Festival 2011 and the London Arts Council. Voracious consumer of the art and a member of the newly established Collective of Contemporary Artists in Sri Lanka, her work tends to focus on the emotional and the more obscure and quirky details of everyday life. She is currently working on three children’s book illustration projects.
As an artist, Dinesh Joseph Pereira is influenced by general aspects of life and he is drawn to visually dramatic and contrasting themes, usually loud images and repetitive designs and positioning.
Samuel Niruban is heavily influenced by designer toys and collectibles, street art, Shepard Fairey, Marko Djurdjevic, graphic novels and uber cool fashion photography. He has a simple engine that drives him in everything he does: Psalm 413: “For I can do all things through Him, who gives me strength.”
Dennis Muththuthanthri is a self-taught photographer, graphic designer and artist. He has worked on the book projects for artists Senaka Senanayake and Saskia Pintelon. He is the photographer of all Paradise Road Company projects and hotels.
Paper Canvas is cuurently taking place at the Saskia Fernando Gallery, 61 Dharmapala Mawatha (opposite the Levis Store) Colombo 7 and can be contacted on 117429010. The Gallery is open daily from 10a.m. to 7p.m. Paper canvas will be exhibited until 30 September.