Pala Pothupitiye (b.1972) is a Colombo-based artist with a degree in Fine Arts from the Visual and Performance Art University, Colombo. Raised in a village of traditional southern Sri Lankan craft-artists, his work incorporates and reinterprets the material and philosophical content of traditional art. He is one of the core members of Theertha, an autonomous, artist-led non-profit initiative in Colombo.
Pala stems from a family of ritual performers and thus is deeply rooted with traditional crafts and performing arts. He continues to evolve his ancestral language in contemporary times by constantly incorporating language, vernacular material and traditional costume making to question his post colonial identity and the distinction between high and low art. Since 2010, Pothupitiye has used maps to recreate historical narratives that recreate his Sri Lankan identity that is residual of multiple invasions and encroachments. As a cartographer, he navigates through various trade routes that have impacted the political, social and cultural fabric of the nation.
His solo shows include his participation at 'This is Tomorrow', a special curated section of START Projects for solo artist presentations, START Art Fair, Saatchi Gallery, London (2015); 'Pride and Power' curated by Lalith Manage at Hempel Galleries, Sri Lanka (2014); 'Costume' curated by Dr. Thamotharampillai Sanathanan at Jaffna University Gallery (2010); and 'Ancestral Dress + My ID' at Theertha Red Dot Gallery, Colombo (2008); 'Sri Sri Lanka: Mapping post- colonial Ceylon' is his first solo exhibition in India.
Furthermore, he has exhibited his works in several curated group shows such as 'RE:BELLION // RE:LIGION // RE:FORM: Artistic Action in times of Crisis', Max-Pechstein- Museum, Zwickau, Germany (2015); 'Identities: A Visual Engagement', curated by Annoushka Hempel and Lalith Manage, Colombo (2013); and 'Becoming', curated by Suresh Jayaram and Roman Berka at the 2nd Colombo Art Biennale (2012), among others.
He was selected to participate in the 3rd Fukuoka Triennale at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan (2005), and won the first place for the jury award of the Sovereign Asian Art Prize, Hong Kong (2010).
Pothupitiye currently lives and works at the Mullegama Art Center near Colombo, of which he is a founding member - and where he runs his workshop, a residency, and an art school - supporting younger artists and school children.