"Our work, the material we use reflect the repetitive status quo of humans"
The recent environmentally related calamities have destroyed lives, homes and livelihoods. Despite this, most of us still continue to carelessly contribute to the ever-increasing garbage. More importantly, our desire to benefit ourselves has resulted in the destruction of forests, lakes, and fauna causing irreversible damage to our ecosystem.
Emerging artists K.K Teran and Harshana Kumarasiri unveil a realistic conjecture of this contemporary issue with a hint of futuristic caution through their art. Together they creatively seek new directions that art could take whilst maintaining connections to our traditions and history.
K.K Teran (left) and Harshana Kumarasiri (right)
What was your childhood like and how did you get in to art?
Teran: I am from Galle. My father is a teacher and my mother is a homemaker. I have been working with clay since I was a kid. After my A/Levels, I came to the University of Visual Arts where I studied ceramic art, and pottery. My family never objected to my career decision.
Harshana: My home is in Tangalle, and I ascend from a family of farmers. I studied sculpture at the University of Visual Arts as well. There was no pressure from my family to pursue the same livelihood. My parents are very supportive.
What is your preferred medium?
Teran: I choose to work with clay because it provides that 3D effect, which I like very much. It's also why I didn't choose to pursue graphics, although there is a demand for graphics unlike for ceramic art. As an artist, I feel that the scope that the ceramic arts offer is more.
Harshana: As a visual artist, being a sculptor is a very gratifying. I get to work with different materials. Here, there is a learning curve in the very use of these materials. Currently, my work constitutes of discarded polythene.
By K.K Teran, which will be on display at 'Repetition'
How long have you both been engaging in this kind of work?
Teran: As a discipline we have been doing this for the past 6 - 7 years. We have both exhibited before in group exhibitions and together. Our first exhibition together was titled 'Entrance', and was held last year at the JDA Perera Gallery.
Harshana: Neither of us hold a corporate job and not that it's a bad thing if you do, but this is our livelihood. My work is my life. However we do undertake commissioned work.
Any particular influence / influences that affect your work?
Teran: I am greatly influenced by history and religion, and especially art that represent this. For example, if you take the paintings found in the temples of the Kandyan era there is much spiritual detail in it. The underlying message of my work is what I have absorbed from the colours to the motif of these paintings.
Harshana: Well, the very need for recycling greatly influences me. The very need for preservation and conservation is my driving force. Did you know that a hospital discards 1500 bottles a day? Where do these bottles go? Waste keeps accumulating and accumulating with man eventually having to pay for the end result for his own actions.
By Harshana Kumarasiri, which will be on display at 'Repetition'
What are your political views?
Teran: We are eco-conscious. However, we don't have an idea of protesting and neither does our work take a defensive stance on things. Instead, it takes on a more philosophical approach on the situation.
Harshana: I agree with Teran, as it's awareness that we wish to raise. Manipulating selected colours in certain works, I wish for people to understand the message in my work. Our consumerist culture feeds on earth's limited resources which benefits only humans. As a result, we create garbage that cannot be easily broken down.
What are the challenges you face as an artist?
Teran: The biggest challenge would have to be financial. The primary question being how to live and do what we do. The government here can extend more support to artists (like governments in other countries do) and help to uplift the lives of artists.
Harshana: Being financially stable is always the biggest challenge for any artist.
As emerging artists, what is your perspective on criticism?
Teran: Criticism is important for the development of the artist. The issue in Sri Lanka is that art criticism is not established here. Unbiased expert opinion is lacking in the country.
Harshana: To us, even a layman's opinion is important. That way we can gage their understanding of our work. I like for my work to inspire people.
What can you tell us about the forthcoming exhibition?
Teran: The name of the exhibition is called 'Repetition' and there is a reason to it. The materials we utilise to create our work reflect the everyday repetitive status quo of humans. In a larger context, one can assume that the style of my work which has been compared to the work of the local artist LTP Manjusiri is a repetition there itself. As traditional and religious art, the symbolism of repetition was used to invoke feeling and cement the belief of a devotee.
Harshana: We are visual artists, and our work is a visual language that needs to introduce the viewer to the concept of repetition. For instance you go to the supermarket, you purchase an item and you take it home in a polythene bag and eventually you throw away this polythene bag. These are your actions each time you visit the supermarket. This alone constitutes as a repetitive act which contributes to the collection of garbage. This is the underlying motif of my work which is to be displayed at the exhibition. My work will also include a few installation pieces as well.
'Repetition' will be held at the Galleries of the Sapumal Foundation on the 17th and 18th of June from 10:00AM - 6:00PM.