Chandraguptha Thenuwara’s Covert (2021-23) is composed of intricate and interlocking iron filigree symbols painted black: lotus buds, bodies, barbed wire, thorns, stupas, lion tails, weapons, vehicles. The complete sculptural installation Covert is presented to the public from 23 July 2023 to 31 July 2023, marking the completion of a project that began in 2020. Covert is presented by Saskia Fernando Gallery was exhibited at the 59th Venice Biennale at the European Cultural Centre as part of the ‘Personal Structures’ Exhibition. In October the Covert Drawings were presented at Frieze London in the special curated section titled Indra’s Net by Sandhini Poddar, adjunct curator of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
This is the first time the complete project is being exhibited for the first time in Sri Lanka, during Chandraguptha Thenuwara’s three part memorial exhibition marking 40 years since the events of Black July 1983.
As part of Thenuwara’s longstanding anti-war activism and artistic practice, Covert considers the way collective violence puts pressure on the aesthetic field as visual culture is co-opted into militaristic iconography. But while the series works to reveal such strategies, it also strives to undermine them: to appropriate and reinvent such symbolism in protest against its weaponization and the profound violence that accompanies it. Begun just before the 2022 Aragalaya protests, Covert is also deeply committed to the imaginative potential of contemporary art to picture political possibilities in alliance with wider social movements.
Find out more about the exhibition here.