COLOMBOSCOPE 2024 Meet The Artists: Ruwangi Amarasinghe

Jan 09 2024.

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Questions:  

1. Tell us a little about yourself?

2. Describe your work for Colomboscope 2024 and its ties with the theme - Way of the Forest?

3. What’s the inspiration behind the work?

4. What is your signature style in your art?

5. What are you looking forward to at Colomboscope and what do you hope people would take away from your work? 

The eighth edition of the interdisciplinary art festival Colomboscope will be held from 19-28 January across Colombo. Colomboscope “Way of the Forest” is shaped with over 40 Sri Lankan and international artists and collectives and is interwoven with a cross-section of programmes, conversations, excursions, performances, workshops and other experiences. Colomboscope 2024  is curated by Hit Man Gurung, Sheelasha Rajbhandari and Sarker Protick together with artistic director Natasha Ginwala. Meet some of the artists for Way of the Forest as they talk to us about their work for the festival.     

1. I grew up around art and aspired to be involved in it from early childhood. I come from a family of artists - my grandfather, Ariyawansa Weerakkody is a sculptor, my grandmother, Kamala, is an art teacher and my uncle, Prasanna Weerakkody is an exceptionally talented artist. Each one had their own personal vision for how they practised their art. I grew up learning from them, listening to their stories and being inspired by what they created, sitting in on my grandmother’s art classes and learning to draw by copying Disney characters out of books. Although I studied Graphic Design in my undergrad, I eventually moved to specialize in Illustration and started painting more seriously about 7 years ago, working on large-scale acrylic on canvas paintings.

2. My painting for Colomboscope 2024 depicts a scene of Reverence. the pilgrims of the villages, travel in silent procession to the heart of the Forest to lay their tribute, and offerings in appreciation for the Forest Spirit. They know and understand that the Forest is their life-giver, their whole lives depend on the generosity of the abundance the forest gives. So, in turn, they show respect. But the welcoming nature of the Forest also lets in the corrupt to lay waste to it. The Red Waste spreads through, consuming endlessly, taking everything and leaving only destruction in its wake. They do not know of balance, they are an infection without resistance. The Forest, though seemingly endless, cannot continue to be plentiful if it is all consumed at once...

3. I wanted to tell a story about respect, care and mutual symbiosis. Our mindset as humans living in the age of technology, we seem to have forgotten our roots and how much the forests give life to us. There is no respect or care in our actions. We seem to only take what we need and never give anything back. I wanted to show the peace that can be achieved and the beauty of calm, slow and thoughtful living, that brings all creatures and plants into our circle as a whole. By revering the forests, and the spirit of the forest, we can live symbiotically. Not as the savage red disease that spreads heedlessly.

4. My style has grown over the years to become its own, intricate scenes entangled with storytelling, taking the forms of animals and colourful, fantastical creatures. I feel like it is a combination of many things taking inspiration from many of my favourite artists and of course my family, nature, and emotions. It is an evolving thing, and I push myself to keep improving with every painting. I like that it will grow to become something more than what it is today.

5. I am excited because this will be my first painting to be exhibited at Colomboscope, I have taken part in previous occasions but last time I made an installation. It will be the first time a painting of mine will be exhibited in public. I hope that seeing it will inspire people, and form a connection within them. I do not like to explain the meaning of any artwork to the viewer because I believe that it is up to them to find their own understanding of it. Art is subjective, and everyone will see it differently. But all I can do is hope that it connects with a handful of viewers at least.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Panchali Illankoon

Law Graduate, food and travel enthusiast and full time dog mom..

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