Desire | Sunday Observer


Out–of–the box artist Hashan Cooray’s third solo exhibition Desire was showcased online by the Saskia Fernando Gallery recently.

Desire is no pretty painting exhibition. With a thematic content of love, pain, desire and existentialism, Cooray? delves into the dark side of?? human beings. The tensions, the feelings of helplessness, the warring between good and evil in? human beings? “journey towards hell” to put it in Hashan’s own words are portrayed in his works, mainly as abstract self portraits. They are startling to say the least and hits you in a gut wrenching way, the images distorted and grotesque. This in a way is the artist’s attempt at introspection.

Throughout twelve months, Cooray worked at bringing to light man’s involvement with love, pain, desire? and similar emotions. The? drawings and paintings in somber, dark colours are done with charcoal,paint and brushes made by Cooray himself with fine coir and sticks.?? There are also paintings done on brown paper. A mouthless face, incomplete faces, tortured expressions are all used to symbolise the artist’s themes.? The works also have religious overtones.

The cacti plant is used as a symbol of himself by the artist and covers the mouthless face and other portraits in? gestural painting. Scribbled notes referring to God like creatures? help enhance the effect of the paintings.

Hashan Cooray is a visual artist whose treatment of his subjects goes beyoyond the usual, stereotype treatment found in portraiture. He studies faces and people diametrically opposite to the ones he admires? and then in his works he treats the subjects in an intrusive manner thereby subjecting the viewer to all the darkness that lies underneath.

Born in 1987, Hashan Cooray had his education at Sri Jayewardenepura Maha Vidyalaya, Kotte (former Christian? College, Kotte) and was involved in art throughout his school-life encouraged by his guru Anura Handunetti. He used mixed media as his medium using? materials like charcoal and acrylic. He is largely self taught and has learnt along the way working as an Art Director in the advertising Industry.

After leaving school Cooray joined the Art Way Institute to follow a course in fine arts.? Between the years? 2010 and 2017 he participated in group exhibitions and presentations organised by the? George Keyt Foundation.

In 2015, Cooray participated at the Kalapola at Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, Colombo 3.

?The year 2016 saw an important milestone in young Cooray’s professional life when? he was invited by the Bennetton Collection to create a work? for Re-Imagining Ceylon for the Imago Mundi book project.

?Cooray’s first solo exhibition titled Lab Rats was with Art Space Sri Lanka and included small colourful pastel paintings on paper. The theme was the corruption in the pharmaceutical industry used as an allegory of the behavioural patterns in society today.

The artist’s views on life is clearly expressed in what he wrote on the occasion of his second exhibition Parahuman at the Saskia Fernando Gallery. He wrote, “For decades, we have been classified under the generic profile ‘Homo Sapiens Sapiens’.

The rules of nature apply to all-things-physical. Are we the same as we were yesterday? While the clock ticks, we too have evolved intellectually. Thus, we witness the dawn of a whole new species.

Imprisoned in a digitalised world, the room for rational decision, observation, goodwill and understanding is slowly fading away. We are not driven by conscience, compassion nor love.

Where each bond is a transaction, every conversation is a concession, we hide behind the cascade of capitalism. We have built our future upon the foundations of power, lust and authority.

As our morals fade, we shall rise as a new breed of humans. A whole new chapter in the book of evolution.”

His works can be found in private collections locally and overseas.

He lives in Colombo with his wife, son, his main inspiration, and daughter.

He is grateful to his parents for giving him the space and support to follow his passion.