This International Women’s Day, Saskia Fernando Gallery highlights their female artists — women, unrestricted by medium, expectation, and the boring trope of women as simply objects to be deconstructed and put on a canvas. The viewing, showcased from 8-12 March online, features women as creators, not as subjects.
Speaking to The Morning Brunch on this venture, Saskia Fernando said: “The focus will be on the female artists that we work with. During this time, we think it’s important to highlight this important part of our line up; women make up a smaller percentage of international artists, so we liked to focus on women and show that we represent a good line up of female artists.” She added that the gallery took this opportunity to highlight something that is already focused on by the establishment, as it is deserving of appreciation.
Here are a few artists that will be seen at the viewing, and the message behind their art.
The “Woman” is at the core of Hansika Herath’s practice. Out of a multitude of available printing techniques – some of which would no doubt be simpler, Herath uses a complex woodcut technique, exemplifying the care that she puts into her creation and allowing for the strong, undeniable presence of the female figure to stand out. Her works deal with Sri Lanka’s long history as a matriarchal society and her life in a village influences the narratives and images that are threaded through it. Depicted amongst nature, her representation of the “Woman” is one of harmony with the natural world. Herath lists both Frida Kahlo and Anupam Sud as female artists who inspire her practice.
Fabienne Francotte’s work is a spontaneous celebration of the people she encounters in her life as a teacher, expatriate, and avid observer. It is the chaos of these interactions that inspires her work; the unedited and unfiltered beauty of the human condition. Despite representing the externalities of the human face, it is what is hidden under these physical features that radiate off of Francotte’s works – the stories, the moods, the soul. Francotte has exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions across the world: from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to Italy, Belgium, and Greece. Like her work, her life is also community-driven; facilitating art workshops with children at the NIMH in Angoda and at the Siviraja Children’s Development Centre for the deaf and blind. Her goal is to allow students to confidently draw outside of the lines and explore their creativity.
Mika Tennekoon believes that the desire to make art is an innate part of her. Her work is inspired by the notion of the divine female and delves into our relationship with nature as a feminine, life-giving entity. Tennekoon’s work jilts easy categorisation, morphing from painting and photography to graphic design and illustration with ease, always maintaining the signature sense of spirituality that has come to define her works. Having her first solo exhibition in 2012, Tennekoon has gone on to exhibit internationally in the US, Dubai, Vietnam, and India in group shows. Tennekoon is part of the Parrot Fish Collective, a group established to re-communicate science in accessible forms to mobilise communities in the fight for conservation. This love for nature is clear in both her environmental activism and her works: in 2012 she participated in The Great West Coast Migration, an art benefit for ocean and shark conservation that travelled across the US.
Hanusha Somasunderam’s work grapples with the plight of tea estate workers, the backbone of Sri Lanka’s prized tea industry. As the daughter of two tea estate workers, Hanusha’s narratives are shaped by her first-hand experiences. The artist transforms everyday tea-drinking objects into sculptural pieces overlaid with images of the hardships faced by the very people who gather the tea we associate with warmth and safety. In 2019, Somasunderam completed the illustrations for Mythri Jegathesan’s “Tea and Solidarity: Tamil Women and Work in Postwar Sri Lanka”, an ethnographic exploration of the lived experiences of tea estate workers.
Visit the Online Viewing Room highlighting the represented female artists on: https://www.saskiafernandogallery.com/viewing-room/21-international-women-s-day-highlighting-sfg-s-female-artists/