3 March - 18 April 2020
Over the past twenty years Sri Lankan artist, ANOMA WIJEWARDENE’s oeuvre has consistently grappled with crucial issues of our time. Her art practice has centred around themes of sustainability and inclusivity; with particular focus on the earth’s climate crisis, and ever-present issues of coexistence, diversity and unity. The works in Kintsugi II embody the artist’s passionate concern and provide a metaphorical response to these global, yet deeply personally felt issues.
Kintsugi (“golden joinery”, also known as Kintsukroi, “golden repair”) is based on the Japanese art of pottery restoration by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Similar to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi (an embracing of the flawed or imperfect), Kintsugi treats breakage and repair as a part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. ANOMA embraces Kintsugi as both a methodology and a philosophy in her works as she searches for harmony and renewal in a turbulent, entropic world. Her material practice is layered and eclectic. A collaged mix of smooth, translucent, plant-based vellum paper against rough, recycled more organic papers are torn and layered. These, often amoebic, yet human-shaped voids, provide small windows and glimpses onto her depictions which are at once both figurative and abstracted. Vivid paintings and underdrawings of humanoid figures are shown traversing abstracted fields of colour. They appear isolated and self-reflective in moments of quietude; shrouded and obscured through layers they are yearning to re-connect with their surroundings and each other.
ANOMA celebrates rather than disguises the flawed and the broken through a flurry of layered materials and imagery. She contends that her work is a response to the increasing normalization of unconscionable intolerance, hatred and the crises unleashed by war, poverty and climate crisis, when she writes:
“As the desperate seek security and survival, societies are wounded, people are broken physically, emotionally, psychologically. We all yearn for healing whether it is in Sri Lanka, Christchurch, London, Damascus or Australia… Art inspires us to rise from the shards of our shattered lives, to rebuild and heal; and reflect upon our common humanity in the face of conflict, religious fervour, and human insecurity. It invites us to accept shared stewardship of our fragile planet.”
The poetry accompanying the work is by the acclaimed and finalist in the Man Booker Prize in 1994, Sri Lankan writer, ROMESH GUNESEKERA, who has specifically composed these words for the art, combining fragments of poetry and prose in a single unified poem. A monograph book, printed in Singapore, includes 200 images alongside five essays and contributions from several renowned writers. It documents the process with images from her sketchbooks, collectors’ details, a biography and chronology.
ANOMA WIJEWARDENE is an alumna of Central Saint Martins College, University of Arts, London. She was the first Sri Lankan solo artist invited to show at the European Cultural Council, during the 58th Venice Biennale 2019, and has amassed international recognition for her works spanning five decades. She has had several international exhibitions in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Her works was featured on the cover of British Vogue 1974 and she has exhibited in 2016 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery.