Colombo Art Biennale 2012

15.02.12 – 19.02.12

Theme: Becoming

The 2012 Colombo Art Biennale is delighted to announce the theme for 2012: ‘Becoming’. This title was chosen to reflect the social and political context of Sri Lanka today as well as from the wider issues that are facing our world. The first Colombo Art Biennale in 2009: Imagining Peace investigated the complexities of the idea of peace for a nation that had just concluded a 30 year civil war. From this point in history and culture, the country has moved on, but where to? We are now concerned with the way this peace has affected the country. Where is Sri Lanka now? What has it Become? The theme of Becoming asks artists and participants to consider the reality and the concepts of Becoming, the ‘possibility of being in a moment between two decisive ends.’ Becoming is not an idea which asks for certainty but by its nature explores open-endedness, transformation and potentiality.

This year the CAB will be strengthening the platform from which Sri Lankan artists can be seen, interpreted and understood both nationally and internationally. There will be a greater international presence compared with 2009 as, alongside the 20 local Sri Lankan artists, there will be established international participants from regional countries: India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal, as well as those from further afield: The US, France, Australia, UK and Germany.

The Team:


Annoushka Hempel– Founder and Director

B.A. SOAS,  London; Founder and Curator of Colombo Art Biennale & Curator. Annoushka achieved her BA honours in Art and Archaeology and worked with contemporary African artists in London and put together a book on African Art. She moved to Sri Lanka almost nine years ago where she set up and managed the first art gallery in Galle showcasing Sri Lankan artists.

Jagath Weeresinghe – Co-Founder

Artist/ Archaeology University Lecturer, Founding Member & Chairman of Theertha International Artist Collective & Curator. Jagath studied at the Institute of Aesthetic Studies, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka and American University, Washington D.C. Jagath helped to make a shift to a new approach to art in Sri Lanka in the 1990’s as part of a movement which is known as the 90’s Art Trend. He lives and works in Sri Lanka.

Neil Butler – Director

Artist, Director of Colombo Art Biennale, Director of Glasgow Art Fair.

Established the Chandrasaevena Art Centre in Sri Lanka which worked with the Dutch Director Dries Verhoeven in 2010 to create an innovative theatre show that appeared in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. In Europe Butler developed and directed Glasgow’s Merchant City Festival and Scotland’s National Street Arts Festival (2000-2009). His art work Wrap the World involved simultaneous events in Johannesburg, Delhi, Sydney, New York, Porto and Glasgow and was broadcast worldwide by the BBC. He was guest international curator at the first CAB.


Roman Berka

Currently heading Museum in Progress with Hans Ulrich Obrist and Daniel Birnbaum on the Vienna Opera House Safety Curtain Project. Berka has had a deep conection with Sri Lanka for many years. Working for the One World Foundation as Project Co-ordinator.

Suresh Jayaram

Artist and Art Historian, Founder and Director of 1, Shanthi Road, an artist collective group that hosts artists from around the regions to exhibit in Bangalore. He was Dean of College of Fine Arts, Chitrkala, Parishath, Bangalore from 2005- 2007.


Puja Srivastava – Project Manager

Deneth Piumaskshi – Project Coordinator

Knut Landsverk-  Project Consultant
Delon Weeresinghe – Production Director

Artistic Advisory Board:

Chandraguptha Thenuwara, Artist, Founder of Vibhavi Academy of Arts Sri Lanka, Head of Department of Art at University of Visual and Performing Arts Colombo.

Anoli Perera, Artist, Director of Theertha Arts Collective.

Menika van der Poortern, Artist & Curator. Nazreen Sansoni, Director of Barefoot Gallery Colombo.

Jagath Weeresinghe.

Annoushka Hempel

The Colombo Art Biennale 2012 will be a wonderful festival of events, forums, installations and exhibitions. The venues are situated all over the Colombo and will play host to a fantastic range of new and established artists. This is an important platform for Sri Lankan artists and an inspiring five days to view their work along with the established artists from abroad. We will update you here with news of projects, upcoming events and a look at Sri Lanka’s contemporary art scene.