Tropical Torment


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The torment of how Sri Lanka's war scars conflict with the island's tropical beauty is being explored at an exhibition which includes pieces from a local university graduate.

The collection of paintings, featuring Priyantha Udagedara’s selected works from 2010-2014, was open to the public at The Norman Rea Gallery at the University of York until Friday 27th June.

The Sri Lankan born 39-year-old, whose childhood was blighted by his country's civil unrest, was a professional artist before he came to the UK in 2006 to study a Masters in painting at Leeds Metropolitan University.

He then went on to undertake a PhD in Fine Art Practice - also at Leeds Met - which he completed earlier this year.

“My art is a new form of landscape, one which exemplifies terror and beauty in one place,” said Priyantha. “The viewer takes in a false sense of beauty before the revelation of the displaced sense of agonising beauty.

“Sri Lanka has long been represented as a paradise on earth - the ‘Pearl of the Orient’. This sort of language continues today in tourist brochures and, having lived through the Sri Lankan civil war, my work challenges this ideal of Sri Lanka. My paintings bring together both the island's beauty and the horror of what we lived through.

ARTIST: Priyantha Udagedara moved to the UK to study a Masters in Painting at Leeds Metropolitan University

ARTIST: Priyantha Udagedara moved to the UK to study a Masters in Painting at Leeds Metropolitan University

“Major western shows of Asian art have been dominated by Indian and Chinese work, and those featuring art from Sri Lanka have tended to display a traditional, uncritical view of contemporary life on the island. My work showcases a side of Sri Lanka many wish to be kept out of the public eye.”

Priyantha has exhibited his work in Sydney and New Delhi, as well as at several galleries across the UK and in Sri Lanka. He also curated a show of abstract work by four Sri Lankan artists at Leeds Met's Broadcasting Place, last year.

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