‘Encounters’ by MMCA | Sunday Observer

‘Encounters’ by MMCA

26 March, 2023

Each of the six displays in ‘Encounters’ curated by the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Sri Lanka (MMCA Sri Lanka) revolved around and responded to a specially chosen painting drawn from the John Keells Holdings or George Keyt Foundation Collections.

The exhibition included paintings, drawings, performances, installations, and photographs from the 1950s to the present by Abdul Halik Azeez (b. 1985), Aubrey Collette (1920–1992), Martin Wickramasinghe (1890–1976), Senaka Senanayake (b. 1951), George Keyt (1901–1993), Pradeep Thalawatta (b. 1979), Asai Rasiah (1946–2020), the Afro-Asian Writers’ Bureau, the Permanent Bureau of Afro-Asian Writers, Richard Gabriel (1924–2016), Susiman Nirmalavasan (b. 1982), Firi Rahman (b. 1990), Gamini Ratnavira (b. 1949), Ismeth Raheem (b. 1941), A. Mark (1933–2000), Nelun Harasgama (b. 1959), and Janani Cooray (b. 1974).

Speaking of ‘Encounters’, Sharmini Pereira, Chief Curator of the MMCA Sri Lanka said, “By rotating displays, we showed what we could do in a small exhibition space, without compromising on content. Each of the six displays provided a wide array of subject matter catering to many different interest groups.” She further said that

“The imperative behind ‘Encounters’ was to show how the modern and contemporary can be seen hand in hand, and how in turn, research-based curatorial displays and exhibition design can bring about ways of seeing that raise new questions about the familiar and unknown.”

‘Encounters’ attracted over 20,000 visitors who enjoyed the artwork on display and the museum’s public programmes for free. The MMCA Sri Lanka also curated 131 free public programs which included 20 Gallery Talks, 26 Workshops, 34 Curator’s Tours, three sessions of the MMCA Sri Lanka’s first Poetry Club, four Poetry Readings, 12 Exhibition Tours by Visitor Educators, and 32 special events including Puzzle Days, performances and film screenings.

The museum’s outreach programs facilitated a further 38 Curators Tours for groups that included students from schools and universities. The MMCA Sri Lanka also conducted a four-session Writing Workshop with Kanya d’Almeida in March 2023.

“We are extremely thankful to the European Union, Nations Trust Bank, the Foundation for Arts Initiatives, and the John Keells Foundation for supporting the MMCA Sri Lanka’s Education and Public Programs,” said Pereira, adding that “Public engagement with the museum’s activities is essential as we develop greater visibility and support for building a permanent museum of modern and contemporary art for the country.”

Over the coming year, the MMCA Sri Lanka plans to open two more exhibitions. Curated by Sandev Handy and Sharmini Pereira, ‘The Foreigners’ will open in early May featuring a collection of contemporary Sri Lankan artworks by artists such as Imaad Majeed (b. 1989), Nina Mangalanayagam (b. 1980), and the Musicmatters collective. Following this, the MMCA Sri Lanka will open an exhibition focussed on Sri Lankan architect Minnette De Silva in October 2023, curated by Sharmini Pereira and Ritchell Marcelline.

‘Encounters’ closed on March 19, at its premises on the Ground floor of Crescat Boulevard, Colombo 3. The exhibition opened on February 10, 2022 and featured 59 loaned artworks by 15 artists from across the country and Berlin.