in Frieze London , Videos | 16 SEP 22

Watch Now: Chandraguptha Thenuwara

b. 1960, Galle, Sri Lanka; lives and works in Colombo, Sri Lanka

in Frieze London , Videos | 16 SEP 22
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Presenting with Saskia Fernando Gallery at Frieze London 2022 as part of 'Indra's Net' curated by Sandhini Poddar

Chandraguptha Thenuwara is an artist, activist and pedagogue, who has served as an outspoken commentator on the contemporary politics of Sri Lanka throughout his career. The country buckled under the strain of a 26-year-long Civil War from 1983 to 2009, when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) tried to cede control of the northeast of the island from the Sinhalese-dominated government. Thenuwara’s practice, which incorporates drawing, painting, sculpture, installation and public art, draws our attention to the fragile and fraught dystopia of contemporary Sri Lanka.

His personal iconography includes the lotus flower (a symbol of the mind rising from murky waters in Buddhism, now turned into a nationalist trope as the end of a lion’s tail), camouflaged army soldiers, white vans (used for abductions during the Civil War), fallen bodies, barbed wire, barricades, canons and Buddhist stupas. The latter two images when coupled together point to the ongoing militarization of religion in the country.

About Indra's Net

Derived from ancient Buddhist and Hindu thought forms, Indra’s Net refers to an ethics of being, where an individual atom holds within it the structure of reality. Imagine a vast bejewelled net: at every nexus there is

a reflective orb that mirrors and refracts every other orb in its entirety. Each part is held within the whole in a system of dependent origination. All sentient life is interconnected; shifts to one atom subtly alter the rest.

Curated by Sandhini Poddar, this group presentation brings together leading international artists whose practices are informed by this prescient metaphor. In various media, we learn of ancestry, history, language, consciousness and futurity as being bound to the earth, which serves as a perennial witness through the arc of time. 

In the video above, Chandraguptha Thenuwara shares his response to the question, 'What does interconnectedness mean to you?'

Find Out More about Indra's Net

Main image: Chandraguptha Thenuwara, Covert 6, 2022, Ink on Paper, 30 x 42 cm, courtesy of the Artist and Saskia Fernando Gallery