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Muhanned Cader (1966)

Muhanned Cader

Muhanned Cader (b. 1966)

 

“It is through drawing that he strives to formulate a visual language combined with signs and symbols observed in the objects and materials of everyday. Typically many of the forms in his work are rooted in abstraction that comes from an observation of shapes, forms and colours in nature.”

  • Mariah Lookman

 

Muhanned Cader is a Sri Lankan artist born and raised in Colombo. As a student Cader showed an interest in art during his early years, and later went on to receive a formal art education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the late 1990s. Cader is recognized by Josephine Breese as an artist that belongs to a distinct school of thought in the contemporary art scene in the country due to his “fascination with abstraction”. He uses abstract motifs and imagery that may not directly depict his take on socio-cultural and political aspects of human existence, but could yield a multiplicity of meanings. Due to his ability to communicate universally through abstraction Cader has come to occupy a space of profundity and repute in Sri Lanka as well as overseas. He has exhibited in the US, UK, Australia, India, Singapore, Pakistan as well as Bangladesh on various artistic platforms since the early 1990s. He is also the first artist from the contemporary art scene of Sri Lanka to have had one of his work, “Nightscapes – Ocean, River and Sea” represented at a renowned Christie’s New York auction. Cader received the prestigious “Kala Suri” award presented by the Government of Sri Lanka in 2005, and the Bunka Award given by the Japan Sri Lanka Friendship Cultural Fund in 2004. He has taught at the Vibhavi Academy of Fine Arts in Colombo and has been a visiting lecturer at the Ramanathan Academy of Fine Arts located at the University of Jaffna. He currently divides his time between Colombo, Sri Lanka and Oxford, UK. 

 

Cader refers to his art as a representation of “true politics”, as he aspires to remove obvious political associations or commentary from his work. However, the abstract shapes and geometric variations he uses on the canvas can invite and inspire readings about power. His use of such uncommon and unique formats prevents the viewer from seeing the full scene, creating the mindspace for “true politics” to emerge as a visual metaphor. For his solo exhibition Glueandstick held in 2017 at the Barefoot Gallery, Cader revived the cut-out technique used by Henri Matisse, using glossy and colourful cutouts from magazines such as the National Geographic to create high quality digital prints that make a commentary on environmental degradation as well as the negative repercussions caused by the political world such as loss of habitat and human displacement. Mariah Lookman, curator of the exhibition claimed that the works take Cader further in his journey of constructing an artistic identity for himself as he explores “bad politics” alongside “true politics” through visual metaphor associated with the slowly deteriorating wildlife and natural beauty of Sri Lanka. The abstract pieces from magazines make a statement by themselves: “these abstract compositions reflect Muhanned’s visual system of forms that he has been using to critique bogus ideas of development seen in his recent exhibitions, and become more pertinent in the present time of massive political change,” said Lookman. His previous exhibitions such as Island (2016) and Jungle Tide (2015) also dealt with the natural world and the rapid changes happening in Sri Lanka in terms of urban development promoted under the label of progress. 

 

Cader has always worked with the aim of “breaking the frame”, which he does mainly by avoiding the use of the rectangular frame on his canvas. The exhibition A Different Lens held in 2013 at the Koel Gallery in Pakistan is one attempt where he breaks the frame in relation to landscapes of the sea and the sky, using shapes that almost resemble the known such as a lion, a dove or a human bone. Although such works may not directly deal with political issues, Cader ensures that they disrupt the politics of image making. Such thinking can be traced to his fascination with cartography and the need to remove rigid framing of imagery and visuality. His installation “Galle Fort; Fort Kochi” displayed at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2014 uses non-rectangular shaping and framing to depict his rejection of fixed notions of identity. For this piece he used graphite on wood to signify different shapes and images he discovered on the coast of Kochi. 

 

Cader is also known for his series of artworks such as Never Mind The Bullshit (2011) and Coded and Loaded (2010), which are collections developed not necessarily as exhibits but as collectives that force reflection. Never Mind The Bullshit is a collection created using washed up materials found on the beaches of the island of Sri Lanka. Referring to the collection Cader said, “through these paintings, gouache on paper, I have juxtaposed the idea of tragedy with glory, for at the end of any conflict, the winners, or heroes are celebrated, and the rest forgotten. With this body of work I have in my way paid a tribute to the ordinary and not glorious. In memory of all those, and all that stands resistant to the test and trials of time.” The collection is significant in that it uses unconventional and day-to-day material in the process of creation, highlighting the need to celebrate not only the heroes who brought peace ending the ethnic conflict, but also the ordinary citizens who underwent trauma living with a constant state of insecurity and fear. Such collections, therefore, although not as politically charged as the works of some of Cader’s contemporaries, engage in a socio-cultural and political commentary relevant to Sri Lanka as well as the universal context. 

Name of Exhibition Year Place
Untitled, Drawings and Paintings 1995 Barefoot Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Untitled, Drawings and Paintings 1996 Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Untitled, Drawings and Paintings 1997 Heritage Art Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture 1998 Heritage Art Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Nightscapes 1999 Barefoot Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka
In Black and White 2001 Barefoot Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka
79 Days in Lahore 2002 Zahoor-ul-Akhlaq Gallery, National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore, Pakistan
Birth of Un-Cool 2003 Vibhavi Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Drawings 2004 Paradise Road Galleries, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Landscapes 2004 Zahoor-ul-Akhlaq Gallery, National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore, Pakistan
Drawing Sculpture 2007 Barefoot Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Casting Light 2010 Saskia Fernando Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka
A Different Lens 2013 Koel Gallery, Karachi, Pakistan
Jungle Tide 2015 Talwar Gallery, New York, USA
Glueandstick 2017 Barefoot Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Other Publicaitons the Artist has been mentioned in

Name of Book Year of Publication Author Printer

Ref :MC 1

Title :Book 4, Glue and Stick

Signed :-

Year :2017

Measurements in Cms :21 X 26

Material Used :Mixed Media photo collage print, ink jet on Hahnemuhle 100% cotton acid and lignin-free paper,305 gs

Dimensions in Cms. :21 X 26

Ref :MC 4

Title :Book 4, Glue and Stick

Signed :-

Year :2017

Measurements in Cms :21 X 26

Material Used :Mixed Media photo collage print, ink jet on Hahnemuhle 100% cotton acid and lignin-free paper,305 gs

Dimensions in Cms. :21 X 26

Ref :MC 7

Title :Book 4, Glue and Stick

Signed :-

Year :2017

Measurements in Cms :21 X 26

Material Used :Mixed Media photo collage print, ink jet on Hahnemuhle 100% cotton acid and lignin-free paper,305 gs

Dimensions in Cms. :21 X 26

Ref :MC 13

Title :Book 4, Glue and Stick

Signed :-

Year :2017

Measurements in Cms :21 X 26

Material Used :Mixed Media photo collage print, ink jet on Hahnemuhle 100% cotton acid and lignin-free paper,305 gs

Dimensions in Cms. :21 X 26

Ref :MC 16 & 17

Title :Jungle Forms

Signed :Reverse

Year :2015

Measurements in Cms :70 X 107

Material Used :Charcoal on Lambeth drawing Paper,370 gsm

Dimensions in Cms. :70 X 107

Ref :MC 22

Title :Objects Never to be Found

Signed :Reverse

Year :2009

Measurements in Cms :19.5 X 21

Material Used :Pencil on Fabiano Paper

Dimensions in Cms. :19.5 X 21

Ref :MC 26

Title :Objects Never to be Found

Signed :Reverse

Year :2009

Measurements in Cms :19 X 21

Material Used :Pencil on Fabiano Paper

Dimensions in Cms. :19 X 21

Ref :MC 30

Title :Drawing Sculpture

Signed :Reverse

Year :2007

Measurements in Cms :28 X 38

Material Used :Ink & Pen on Water Colour Paper- 250gsm

Dimensions in Cms. :28 X 38

Ref :MC 33

Title :Drawing Sculpture

Signed :Reverse

Year :2007

Measurements in Cms :28 X 38

Material Used :Ink & Pen on Water Colour Paper- 250gsm

Dimensions in Cms. :28 X 38

Ref :MC 35

Title :Sea Scape 7

Signed :Reverse

Year :2016

Measurements in Cms :50 x 50

Material Used :Pencil on Lambeth Paper -370gsm

Dimensions in Cms. :50 X 50

Ref :MC 38

Title :Sea Scape 4

Signed :Reverse

Year :2016

Measurements in Cms :50 x 50

Material Used :Pencil on Lambeth Paper -370gsm

Dimensions in Cms. :50 X 50

Ref :MC 39

Title :Round the Ceylon Collage No. 16

Signed :Reverse

Year :2020

Measurements in Cms :62 X 95

Material Used :Collage on Chakra recycled paper and Maximus paper

Dimensions in Cms. :62 X 95

Ref :MC 40

Title :Round the Ceylon Collage No. 15

Signed :Reverse

Year :2020

Measurements in Cms :62 X 95

Material Used :Collage on Chakra recycled paper and Maximus paper

Dimensions in Cms. :62 X 95

Ref :MC 41

Title :Round the Ceylon Collage No. 17

Signed :Reverse

Year :2020

Measurements in Cms :62 X 95

Material Used :Collage on Chakra recycled paper and Maximus paper

Dimensions in Cms. :62 X 95

Ref :MC 43

Title :Round the Ceylon Collage No. 18

Signed :Reverse

Year :2020

Measurements in Cms :62 X 95

Material Used :Collage on Chakra recycled paper and Maximus paper

Dimensions in Cms. :62 X 95

Ref :MC 44

Title :Untitled

Signed :Reverse

Year :2020

Measurements in Cms :25 x 25

Material Used :Acrylic on Lambeth drawing Paper 170 gsm.

Dimensions in Cms. :25 x 25

Ref :MC 45

Title :Untitled

Signed :Reverse

Year :2020

Measurements in Cms :25 x 25

Material Used :Acrylic on Lambeth drawing Paper 170 gsm.

Dimensions in Cms. :25 x 25

Ref :MC 46

Title :Untitled

Signed :Reverse

Year :2020

Measurements in Cms :25 x 25

Material Used :Acrylic on Lambeth drawing Paper 170 gsm.

Dimensions in Cms. :25 x 25

Ref :MC 47

Title :Untitled

Signed :Reverse

Year :2020

Measurements in Cms :25 x 25

Material Used :Acrylic on Lambeth drawing Paper 170 gsm.

Dimensions in Cms. :25 x 25

Ref :MC 48

Title :Untitled

Signed :Reverse

Year :2020

Measurements in Cms :25 x 25

Material Used :Acrylic on Lambeth drawing Paper 170 gsm.

Dimensions in Cms. :25 x 25

Ref :MC 49

Title :Untitled

Signed :Reverse

Year :2020

Measurements in Cms :25 x 25

Material Used :Acrylic on Lambeth drawing Paper 170 gsm.

Dimensions in Cms. :25 x 25

Ref :MC 50

Title :Untitled

Signed :Reverse

Year :2020

Measurements in Cms :25 x 25

Material Used :Acrylic on Lambeth drawing Paper 170 gsm.

Dimensions in Cms. :25 x 25

Ref :MC 51

Title :Birds

Signed :Reverse

Year :2020

Measurements in Cms :25 x 25

Material Used :Acrylic on Lambeth drawing Paper 170 gsm.

Dimensions in Cms. :25 x 25

Year Institute Qualification
1994 School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA BA