Thamotharampillai Sanaathanan is a Jaffna-born visual artist currently living and working in Colombo. Sanathanan’s art practice traces loss, memory, home and the self. His work involves various disciplines; research, documentation, and oral history that explore complex issues related to Sri Lanka’s civil war. With Raking Leaves, a curatorial publishing organisation, he produced a book documenting people’s lived experiences and feelings about displacement alongside artistic interpretations of these stories. His works, exhibited internationally, such as Incomplete Thombu and Cabinet of Resistance are today some of the most recognised artistic representations of Jaffna and its recent history. He was the recipient of a Bunka Award, Japan Foundation (2015) and the title of Kalasuri, Government of Sri Lanka (2007). He has completed residencies at the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver (2009) and Usher Gallery, Lincoln, UK (2004).
Sanathanan is currently a senior lecturer in the Department of Fine Arts, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka. He is the co-founder of the Sri Lankan Archive for Contemporary Art, Architecture and Design, Jaffna and a member of the Sri Lanka Art Council and the Advisory Board for School Curriculum on Art, National Institute of Education, Sri Lanka. He completed his BFA and MFA in Painting from the College of Art in Delhi and earned a PhD in Art History from Jawaharlal Nehru University.
About his practice, he says: “The central point in all my works is still the home. Home was burning because of war. I could not sleep nor share my trauma with anyone.”