Jagath Weerasinghe's practice is socially-involved and reflects on the genocide and political violence Sri Lanka has endured since the 1980s.Read More
Yantra Gala and the Round Pilgrimage (1999) is an installation Weerasinghe made as a memorial for the parents whose children were murdered between 1989 and 1990 at torture camps in Embilipitiya.
The work comprises eight oil paintings on canvas with collage, elements of a wooden altar, resin, clay, gold leaf, wheat and earth. At the centre of the installation, Weerasinghe displays an empty mould of a Buddha, representative of the lost Buddhist Dharma—the cosmic law and teachings taught in Buddhism. Small labels with names of torture camps and names of sacred places in Sri Lanka are spread among stone rice and small clay flowers and birds.
The installation paintings depict women in saris beside empty speech balloons, symbolic of their unheard voices amid Sri Lanka's violent turmoil. The paintings feature maps of the country, suggestive of the search of the mothers for their lost children.
Weerasinghe's paintings take inspiration from the dances of the Hindu God Shiva. Weerasinghe's thick use of acrylic paint and expressive brush strokes capture the movement of Shiva as he quells toxic and hostile worldviews. Expressive drips of vibrant red, yellow and black paint smother the canvas, abstracting the figure of a beloved national symbol.
By capturing the intense narrative of Shiva destroying a world to create a world, Weerasinghe examines the push and pull between Sri Lanka's religious violence and the limitations of institutionalised devotion.
In 1999, Weerasinghe was commissioned by the Sri Lankan government to design a monument titled Shrine of the Innocents (1999). Weerasinghe's sculpture represents a memorial for the innocent victims of violence across southern Sri Lanka in the late 1980s and early 1990s.