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Saturday July 20th, 2024

Hashan Cooray’s Dystopia at Saskia Fernando Gallery

Hashan Cooray presents his fifth solo exhibition with Saskia Fernando Gallery. The artist’s latest body of work, titled ‘Dystopia’ features gestural paintings and two installation works that confront the complex relationship between an individual and the socio-political systems within which they exist – stirring a conversation on the inherent struggles of the human condition and its psychosis.

Hashan Cooray’s interdisciplinary practice that blends drawing, painting, digital art, installation, and mixed media breaks away from traditional portraiture to uncover the human psyche. Repurposing propaganda posters and commercial advertisements, Cooray attempts to confront how society is caught up in the web of nationalism, capitalism, and consumerism.  His work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions at Saskia Fernando Gallery, Lionel Wendt Art Centre and JDA Gallery. The artist has also been featured in the Imago Mundi Book Project published by the Benetton Foundation and is featured in multiple private collections in Sri Lanka.

Cooray’s work in the advertising sector deeply influences his art practice, delving into Freudian psychology as he explores how the unconscious mind is negatively impacted by capitalist and consumerist forces. Cooray chooses to externalise these concepts through the morphing and distortion of the human form that rejects traditional conventions of art, reflecting the artist’s affinity with the anti-art movement. ‘Dystopia’ will feature two installations, one of which comprises sixty metres of newspaper headlines from the 2022 Aragalaya protest movement and the aftermath. Cooray’s foray into installations in the exhibition furthers his conversation on the entanglement of individual lives with political systems and provides an interactive space for the audience to actively engage with these themes.

Elements from popular culture and advertisements appear within his compositions disrupting Cooray’s portraits. These elements not only highlight the pervasive influence of media and advertising on society but also challenge viewers to reconsider their participation in and attitudes toward a consumer-centric world. Hashan continues to question the concept of the public gaze, explored in his previous exhibitions.

‘Dystopia’ will run until 20th July 2024 at Saskia Fernando Gallery, 41 Horton Place, Colombo 07. The programme for the exhibition will include artist walkthroughs and workshops.