My first meeting with Pala Pothupitiye is a blur, possibly because I remember hearing so much about him that quite an opinion had already been formed. Most of these stories were based on his Ancestral Headdress series and his history of traditional dance. Pala still dances, only for himself, but is contemplating a piece of performing art soon, I am working on convincing him.
So how did we get from there to here? Curating his first show in my gallery was long overdue and it seems fitting that this new exhibition marks a new stage in his artistic career. What I set to be a big year for the artist has already been marked by participation in exhibitions in Singapore and soon in London. The former was an exhibition of the nominees for the Sovereign Asia Art Foundation Prize. The latter will be an exhibition of work by a selection of Sri Lanka's foremost contemporary artists, the first in London since 2003. Pala's work is already part of the permanent collection of the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum and this artist is certainly one to watch.
This new series is sophisticated and minimal, in two words. The canvases and sculpture are inspired by his travels to the North and while the artist suggests a geopolitical theme I believe it is the artists attempt to understand the difference between two cultures. It is the representation of history and change, the acknowledgement of suffering and the beginning of growth. It is so characteristic of Pala to communication any situation through culture, ancestry and tradition and I believe here the artist struggles to become familiar with that which is an unfamiliar history.