Close to 20 years now Nelun Harasgama's canvases have held those thin, elongated figures and delicately layered landscapes. Her new exhibition, after nearly five years opened in Galle this weekend, Nelun has introduced subtle changes to her pieces.
Placed against a stark white background, her faceless figures seem more isolated than ever and in addition to her landscapes she has added a series of flowers.
Dark and ominous, these are unimaginably different from the chirpy ‘flower power’ prints of the 70s but when Nelun uses the same words to describe them, her intention is that it be read as a metaphor for the deceptiveness of beauty.
Soft spoken and unassuming, Nelun is disinclined to hold forth on her philosophy. However, she does confess to a long obsession with the cycle of samsara, of death and rebirth. “But my eternal cycle is not quite the usual one,” she says, explaining that for her the stages are wounding, death and mourning. It begins in blood as we wound each other, sometimes tearing into the people we most love. Death follows and only then do we seem to pause as we mourn.
In her latest exhibition, the three stages of Nelun’s eternal cycle are delineated by colour – first red, then black, then white. The 60 odd pieces are relatively small – none bigger than one foot by one foot.
The paintings are for most part pieces she created in the last year, and she’s looking forward to exhibiting them in Galle. “I thought it might be fun to have an exhibition out of Colombo,” she says.
Nelun’s exhibition began at the Galle for Printers on July 21 and will remain open for a month.