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