walking on water
An exhibition of sarees and paintings by nelun harasgama from Thursday 22nd March – 15th April 2019.
Nelun Harasgama’s work is distinctively recognisable. Her solitary figures, sitting or standing within bare interiors or barren landscapes have not only become synonymous with her near-abstract style but have also contributed to her standing as one of the few female artists of her generation. Nelun has been making work for nearly thirty years. On occasions, her solitary figures have been joined by a tree, a window or a chair but rarely much more. The sense of loneliness and isolation within her work is undeniable. “Suffering. It’s all round us. It’s in your conscience. It’s in ones genes. We carry suffering within us. Even if we have never suffered in our lives.” explains Nelun. Her work, she continues, “is my take on samsara – the eternal cycle of wounding death and mourning. Maybe a person, maybe a culture, maybe a race it dies. We then mourn it’s passing while never learning not to do it again.”
Born and bought up in Sri Lanka, Nelun has travelled around the country extensively and is part of a generation that have witnessed the circuitous changes of the island over the last 40 years. In stark contrast to the work of many other painters in Sri Lanka, her paintings resonate with tension and torment without recourse to an expressionist or gestural style. Nelun’s paintings by comparison are stripped bare of painterly marks, identifications or unnecessary details. Starkly painted compositions, like studies in abstraction, provide the backgrounds for her elongated figures. Otherwise everything else has been edited out. Unsurprisingly, Nelun notes, “I paint news flashes. ‘Gore crow found at Maradana Junction’ or ‘four bodies found on the Poonaryn Road’, I do not have an opinion or moral or story to tell. Just a news flash.” In her serigraph works she moves even closer to a news print format medium – working with just ink and paper – creating visually striking compositions of single figures.
Nelun Harasgama gained her BA in Visual Communication, University of Trent, Nottingham, UK in 1980. Selected solo exhibitions include: ‘Serigraphy’, Barefoot Gallery, 2014; ‘Spirits’, Fort Printers Gallery, Galle, 2013; ‘no direction home’, Barefoot Gallery, Colombo; 2008; ‘Waiting’ Barefoot Gallery, Colombo, 2006; ‘Wave’, Barefoot Gallery, Colombo, 2005; ‘Samsara’, Barefoot Gallery, Colombo, 2001; ‘Blood Lake’, Barefoot Gallery, Colombo, 2000; ‘Nelun Harasgama’, Gallery 706, Colombo, 1998 and ‘Nelun Harasgama’, The Hermitage Gallery, Colombo, 1994. Nelun Harasgama was born in 1959 in Colombo. She lives and works in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
– Sharmini Pereira
Barefoot Gallery serves as a platform for artists, musicians, poets, and filmmakers
The Colombo Gallery was begun by Barbara Sansoni in 1967 and had its home in Anderson Road in a building designed by Ulrik Plesner. The Colombo Gallery became Gallery 706 and that became the BAREFOOT GALLERY in the mid-nineties, which serves as a platform for artists, musicians, poets, and filmmakers in Colombo.