Pala Pothupitiye

Pala Pothupitiye (b.1972) is a Colombo-based artist with a degree in Fine Arts from the Visual and Performance Art University, Colombo. Raised in a village of traditional southern Sri Lankan craft-artists, his work incorporates and reinterprets the material and philosophical content of traditional art. He is one of the core members of Theertha, an autonomous, artist-led non-profit initiative in Colombo.

Pothupitiye’s oeuvre spans several media including sculpture, painting and drawing, with a special focus on the practice of ethnographic mapmaking. His works principally deal with the confrontation of concerns such as colonialism, nationalism, religious extremism and militarism, extending his inquiry to the questions of caste; the distinction between art and craft, between tradition and modernity; and generating a critique of Eurocentrism.

His solo shows include his participation at ‘This is Tomorrow’, a special curated section of START Projects for solo artist presentations, START Art Fair, Saatchi Gallery, London (2015); ‘Pride and Power’ curated by Lalith Manage at Hempel Galleries, Sri Lanka (2014); ‘Costume’ curated by Dr. Thamotharampillai Sanathanan at Jaffna University Gallery (2010); and ‘Ancestral Dress + My ID’ at Theertha Red Dot Gallery, Colombo (2008). ‘Sri Sri Lanka: Mapping post-colonial Ceylon’ is his first solo exhibition at TARQ. 


Sri Sri Lanka

22 Jan 2016 - 20 Feb 2016

It gives us great pleasure to announce Sri Lankan artist, Pala Pothupitiye’s first solo exhibition in India at TARQ. Titled “Sri Sri Lanka”, the exhibition primarily features a suite of Pala’s celebrated maps, on both paper and canvas. Pala's first solo exhibition in India 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.