Sri Lankan artist, Pushpakanthan Pakkiyarajah tells how deeply his work reflects his country’s troubled past
What is the primary role of an artist?
PP: Artists, in my view, have a social role. They are conscience-shakers who have the capacity to open people’s eyes and make them think. I am not very fond of the kind of artists who get more attention than their work, since for me artists are mere messengers of the story. The artist should also cultivate his role as audience and not only as creator, since it’s the only way in which he can understand the extent and ways his art is received.
How do you describe yourself in the context of challenging people’s perspectives via your work and art?
PP: I would hope that people are struck by my work; that they find it thought-provoking, rather than merely beautiful. If they only contemplate the esthetics of the work, no doubt they will forget about it very quickly afterwards. But if they are impacted by my paintings, they will not forget so easily, and it will make them think. I think art should mirror society. But mirrors can be deceptive too – they can give you strange deformations of reality, they can magnify some aspects or shrink them.