Blog / Blog

Jagath Weerasinghe: Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Awardee 2017!


Born in 1954. Lives and works in Sri Lanka.

Jagath Weerasinghe is a Sri Lankan contemporary artist and archeologist. Weerasinghe has been a significant driving force in the development of Sri Lankan art since the early 1990s. He is Director of the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology at the University of Kelaniya. He obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours in Painting at the Institute of Aesthetic Studies, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka in 1981. In 1985 he received a Conservation of Wall Paintings, International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) in Rome, which was followed in 1988 by a Conservation of Rock Art from the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles. In 1991 Weerasinghe obtained a Master of Fine Arts in Painting at the American University, Washington, D.C. He was commissioned by the Sri Lankan government to design the monument ‘Shrine for the Innocent’ as a remembrance for the innocent victims of the violence that the southern part of the country experienced in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the work completed in 1999.He co-founded the Theertha International Artists Collective in 2000, which continues to foster new artists and initiatives. He describes current Sri Lankan artists as living in an era of ‘para-modernism’. Weerasinghe’s works have been exhibited in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, India, Netherlands, Germany and Japan.

Weerasinghe’s work has always been about the idea of violence in the widest sense of its meaning. His work in archaeology and heritage management in Sri Lanka has shown how deeply the idea of heritage is embedded in our violent dispositions, in our day-to-day life, in the way we think about others and ourselves. At Bellagio, Weerasinghe intends to complete an ongoing work that links to a collaborative art project between Indian and Sri Lankan artists. The proposed work would closely look at the political and the violent in heritage – the nexus between ‘heritage’ and power politics at and of public spaces that are shrouded in sacred/religious narratives