From the beginning, I am against the war – Chandragupta Thenuwara
It not wrong to say that Chandragupta Thenuwara is the leading painter in this country. A very knowledgeable person, he is also agreeable due to his creative abilities and modesty. Presently, he is holding a painting exhibition titled ‘Glitch +’ at Saskia Fernando Gallery at Horton Place, Colombo 07.
 
Given below is an interview Lanka News Web had with Thenuwara regarding his exhibition and also about the prevailing political situation.
 
thenuwara 1What is glitch?
 
That is a word that came into being in the 1960s. When we watch television and suddenly we see squares or pictures are distorted, that is a glitch. Unfortunately, there is no Sinhala word for that. Therefore, I go by the English word. Last time, it was Glitch and this time it is Glitch +. That is the difference between the two.
 
What I mean from glitch is that a picture is not seen clearly.
 
Is there a special reason for using 1983 as the basis for this exhibition?
 
Yes. I saw with my own eyes what had happened in 83 in Colombo, except for Jaffna.  I walked in the Wellawatte area the whole day. I saw many things. Some of them I cannot yet erase from my mind. For some, justice is yet to be done. If Sri Lanka was considered a paradise previously, that brought a black mark to the country. From 87 onward, I hold such exhibitions. From the beginning, I am against the war. 
 
We may like it or not, but it ended with a military solution. But, political solutions are better. Very little of investigations take place. Take for instance, the land issue in the north and the east. What happen to their memorials? Sinhala Buddhist extremism is  creating what Buddha did not preach. The national question is seen as an opposition to Buddhism. On one hand, there is a question about war heroes. There is an unstable political mentality. That is why I am trying to say through Glitch… Certain things that had been promised very clearly are becoming unclear today. If the best quality television set cannot give us a clear picture, that portrays the glitch, our unstable political mentality.
 
Glitch is my response to the situation post-83 to the present.
 
Do you hope to base other political phenomenon for your painting exhibitions?
 
My theme is the present and the 83. A war has ended. Peace is said to be building. But, there are disruptions. Situations of uncertainty will breach trust. 
 
I believe the governments cannot do everything. The citizen has to be exemplary and should make an intervention. A majority of citizens can form a government. That creates a majority and a minority. The majority should intervene in problems with clear commitment. Others cannot wash their hands off by handing that over to the government. That is why my exhibitions focus on rethinking about these problems. Someone may disagree with what is say. If that disagreement comes through questions, I can reach my objective.
 
When will this exhibition close?
 
Until August 13, it will be open from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm.
 
How many paintings are on display?
 
Around 26.
 
How long do you take to finish a painting?
 
Here, I have a collection of my paintings done in one year period. In the beginning I used a lesser variety of colours. That changed later. That might have been influenced by the change in society. But, colour has hidden problems. That is why paintings are created with hidden clubs and weapons, which are depicted in a camouflage painting.
 
Then, robes are there. There are two sacred Buddhist paintings. Both use the colour of the Buddhist flag only. Also, there is one about Thajudeen. One shows Isipriya, who was arrested, raped and destroyed.  Those are important to clear our conscience. It is a big responsibility to know the truth. When we know the truth we can find out why it was not revealed. It is important in art to go in search of the truth. On the other hand, the law enforcement should ensure that there is no recurrence. 
 
What do you think about the government as a leading activist in the political revolution in 2015?
 
If we make a comparison, some of the things we expected have taken place, especially the 19th amendment to the constitution has been taken forward to some extent. But, there are several major things that are yet to be fulfilled. People did not change the government with their stomachs in mind. They wanted a society in which they can live in freedom and with dignity, freed of fraud. There is that freedom. But, that freedom is being used by some to extremes. There is clearly a political hand in that. That is democracy. They can oppose. But, the main thing, the promised new constitution, is a must. There should be a referendum.
 
There are certain organizations and forces who say the 100-day ‘Maithri Yugayak’ says the constitutional amendments will be carried out without a referendum. But, they do not r

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emember that that was for a 100-day period only. People did not vote after reading that. People wanted that change. That was the main thing the common candidate Maithripala Sirisena said everywhere. The second thing is punishment. That is not mere imprisonment or death, but that starts a process which ensures a future free of fraud and corruption through a judicial process. 
 
Also, it should become obligatory for politicians to appear as such (clean) characters. We know this preferential voting system is the reason for all these dirty things. Therefore, the electoral system should change. There are some who have ideas, but cannot come forward as they do not have money. They want to change society. 
 
thenuwara 4Also, devolution of power is there. That is why 83 is important. To prevent a recurrence, we should go for devolution of powers. Some disrupt that thinking about their parties, and even those who previously spoke about a common consensus of ‘country first’ today protect their own parties. They are the biggest obstacle. In their process to clear blue, green and red, they go against the common journey, against those who are impartial, but to serve the needs of the corrupt in their parties.
 
We should go for a law abiding framework. But, we should not go back. We should exert pressure. They should be made to fulfill their promises. That is what we are saying.
 
Interviewed by - Basuru Jayawardena
Pictures – Ajith Seneviratne
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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