With My Back to the World

Mar 13 2023.

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With My Back To The World Group show of Contemporary Female Artists - With My Back to the World opens at Saskia Fernando Gallery

Saskia Fernando Gallery is pleased to present an upcoming group exhibition ‘With My Back to the World' in celebration of International Women’s Day 2023, curated by Mariyam Begum and Ashini Nanayakkara. The exhibition features work by Fabienne Francotte, Hansika Herath, Chathurika Jayani, Shaanea Mendis, Ashini Nanayakkara, Sabeen Omar, Anoli Perera, Sumi Perera, Saskia Pintelon, Anoma Rajakaruna, Hema Shironi and Anoma Wijewardene. 

Borrowing its title from the 1997 work by Agnes Martin, With My Back to the World asks the viewer to observe, feel and respond to the subtleties in art-making without seeking a cause or reason. It is an attempt to grasp what remains in the liminal spaces where materials are moulded, arranged, reshaped, and deconstructed. This is an invitation to actively engage with the process and the tactile conversations that emerge across different disciplines. Whether it be embroidery, beadwork, woodblock printing, painting, sculpture, assemblage, or photography, there is much that transpires within the silent interstices of subtle gestures.

Inspired by the geometric elements and grids of Islamic architecture, Sabeen Omar uses embroidery and beading to transform objects from her childhood such as handkerchiefs and cardboard boxes, exploring the ephemerality of memories and the places we inhabit. Hema Shironi manipulates the mutable qualities of textiles in her work by allowing them to be folded, hung, stored away and then reassembled to contemplate the impermanence of home. She experiments with paper and stitching—reworking her materials to the point of disintegration to meditate on concepts of migration, displacement, and instability.

Fabienne Francotte's hand is evident in her clay sculptures, drawings, and paintings of lips, which she impetuously stitches and reworks to reflect on sisterhood, loss, and trauma. Anomaa Rajakaruna approaches documentary photography with an acute sensitivity that leaves us deeply aware of the issues of conflict, displacement, and sexual harassment. Saskia Pintelon's patchwork of collages, found photographs, appropriated artworks, and cardboard contemplate a society and its citizens that are constantly being 'remade' by political, social, or technological shifts in their environment.

Anoma Wijewardene tears and cuts up her paintings and reconstructs them into vivid and layered works to communicate ideas of inclusivity, sustainability, and harmony. Shaanea Mendis' contemplative pen and ink drawings result from her keen observation of textural patterns and mark-making in nature. Hansika Herath engages with the laborious process of woodcut printing to conflate representations of the female form with nature to meditate on humanity and the environment. There is repetition in the manner in which she slowly chisels out the wood, and in the rolling and rubbing movements with which she transfers ink onto paper. 

Embroidery, thick-set colours, and pieces of cardboard become the tools of Chathurika Jayani's play. She dreams up fantastical urban landscapes of the future while inquiring into issues of industrialization and rapidly rising cities. Inspired by perspective in urban architectural spaces, Sumi Perera uses hybrid printmaking techniques to explore the interplay of geometric forms, shapes, and lines. Ashini Nanayakkara uses a combination of analogue and digital photographic techniques to construct geometric compositions of urban architecture that disorient traditional perceptions of space, place, and scale. The original process of painting is lost as Anoli Perera digitally superimposes century-old cosmological maps with present-day watercolours as she reflects on ideas of 'pilgrimage', and the sacred routes and landscapes people construct.

With My Back to the World foregrounds the myriad ways in which these artists actively engage with material and processes to communicate the ideas they are concerned with. Here the act of making takes precedence over the finished product—every action or gesture is oriented towards a purpose and serves towards creating the overall meaning of the work. As opposed to decoding the meaning of a work, the exhibition is an invitation to slow down and engage with the process of art-making, even when it isn’t discernible in the final work. 

With My Back to the World will run until Sunday 02.04.23.  The exhibition programme will include a series of online talks, workshops, and curated walk-throughs spread throughout the month.

Fabienne Francotte 
The Drawing Lab
Friday 17 March, 5.30–7.30pm 
Tuesday 28 March, 5.30–7.30pm
       Fabienne Francotte will guide participants in the process of drawing - engraving oil to draw bodies, using ink to experiment with line drawing, and painting with oil to draw lips. Suitable for any age. All materials will be provided.

Hema Shironi 
Let’s Bundle Your Joy 
Friday 24 March, 5.30–7pm
      Artist Hema Shironi will guide participants in using textiles and embroidery to create a personal heirloom, and in the process explore the relationship between memories & personal belongings. Participants are requested to bring 8 –10 small items that they treasure.


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