Sri Sri Lanka, Pala Pothupitiye’s first solo exhibition in India at TARQ, primarily features a suite of Pala’s celebrated maps, on both paper and canvas. This exhibition explores the process of re-crafting the ‘official’ version of maps as a consequence of the underlying geopolitics that are in constant flux and that have changed throughout Asia’s historical evolution. Each map delves into Sri Lanka’s rich historical past, and with each map, the artist attempts to decode another aspect of the nation’s fraught identity. The artist works with maps carefully modifying and manipulating the image of Sri Lanka that is familiar to the viewer in its conventional form, but in this case has morphed beyond recognition.
“Sri Sri Lanka” will also include a set of sculptures that further examine the post-colonial Sri Lankan identity, through the lens of the artist. It is through these maps and sculptures that the exhibition provides an insight to the politically biased, and often subjective notions of map-making. It is also perhaps the case that the scars of colonialism and religious conflicts demand that Sri Lanka re-looks at herself, in this case, through the eyes of a cartographer who questions his own traditional as well as academic upbringing in a politically-charged nation that, from his artistic vantage point, fails to address the venerated title — ‘Sri’ —the country is known for.
About the Artist
Pala Pothupitiye was born in 1972 in Deniyaya. He is currently based in Colombo and works as a full time professional artist. He has had number of art exhibitions in Sri Lanka as well as internationally. Ancestral Dress, is a series of work that has engaged Pala Pothupitiye's artistic energy for a long time through which he explores a number of interpretations on identity within a discourse of ancestry, tradition, authenticity, urbanity and the dynamics of contemporary art practices.
“Pala is one of Sri Lanka’s most experienced and promising contemporary artists. He works in various media and is best known for his ancestral headdress work. His recent new work, based on maps, is strong, telling the story of how the land takes on the memory and shape of what happens within it and to its people. In Pala’s map work, the land is made up of indigenous people, refugees, the Singhalese emblem of lion, the Tamil Tiger emblem of a tiger. The map of Sri Lanka is reshaped by its recent history” –Annoushka Hempel-
Pala’s work has been shown in international and local art exhibitions extensively and he is the recipient of the ‘Signature Prize’ given by the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation based in Hong Kong.