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DateLine Wednesday, 25 February 2009

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'You and Me'

The Art of Thisath Thoradeniya

Thisath Thoradeniya's most recent thematic engagThisathf the technological and electronic products found in everyday environments of the globalised contemporary world.

Thisath Thoradeniya

Thoradeniya, in a series of sculptures titled 'Me and You' explores the thematic of 'gendered notions of everyday objects' where he highlights the categorisation of certain objects in society as feminine/female and some as masculine/male. The initial attempt of this series was seen in his work titled '+ and -' which depicts a larger than life-size plug base and plug top.

Thoradeniya's recent work illustrates his obvious attraction to common technological items such as computers, electrical wires and switches etc. In today's context, saturated with electrical and electronic gadgetry, these items have become everyday and common place objects that are perceived merely as functional.

They are easily accessible and easily replaceable, an attribute that makes them mundane, taken for granted and as a result their presence remains visually unnoticed. Thoradeniya's work draws us to this aspect of these electrical and electronic apparatuses and asks us the question, "are they only functional in terms of making our lives' chores efficient?"

In his series of work titled 'Me and You', he consciously engages in two activities. One is to take the most mundane and 'taken for granted' objects from the arena of common electronic apparatuses and transform them into large scale versions.

Though this transformation, he presents these objects to us as 'unique' objects.

The other is, through this very process of enlarging, he subtly allows these objects to obtrude a sense of masculinized and feminised erotic sensations.

Thisath Thoradeniya creating his sculpture

Both these actions probe us to think beyond the mere mechanical functionalities of these objects and go into the mechanics of their particular design and forms. Advertising industry, the nature of consumerism, economics that operate to sustain consumer markets, new inventions and new tastes inform us that the objects we consume come through a highly manipulated process in terms of their design, form and concept in order to meet the need they are going to satisfy in society. Therefore, design and form of an object is never innocent. Creating desire becomes an essential component of the market strategies. Any product, whether it's a mechanical device, cosmetics product or a food container has this sense of desire built into it.

This is a key aspect that is constantly manipulated and stimulated to attract consumers, redefine their tastes and to habitualise their desire for products. Therefore, imbuing a sense of sensuality and sexuality into designs of products is not an accident or a coincidence. Thoradeniya's art that blows up into larger scale the most mundane and common-place electrical items such as a toggle switch with its phallic shaft and an enlarged computer mouse making bare a topography of a vagina hints at the eroticisation inherent in these unassuming objects. It is as if he places these objects on a lab table under a microscope that would enlarge them for us for closer scrutiny.

Thoradeniya's present work has clear linkages to his early works that used cutouts of eroticised imagery from glossy magazines which he used with the traditional medium of painting such as oil on canvas. On the one hand, these early works referred to highly eroticized female imagery used in tabloids for men, and on the other it highlighted the repetitive absorption that each historical era and cultural context has on the 'female nude'. In his recent series of sculptures, this theme of female nude is evolved into exploring female and male sexual symbolism in shapes and motifs found in the everyday environment.

Born in 1975, Thisath Thoradeniya comes from the historical city of Kandy. He received his initial art training at the Vibhavi Academy of Fine Art.

He has been working as an artist and exhibiting in group and exhibitions in Sri Lanka and abroad since 2000.

He has participated in number of international art residencies and workshops. Among them are the art residencies he took part in Bangladesh and Mauritius. His work was exhibited in the Asian Art biennale 2008 in Dhaka, Bangladesh and received the honourable mention award.

Thoradeniya also involves in art administrative and art management where he works as a coordinator for number of international artists' residences and workshops held regularly in Sri Lanka.


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