By Lola Pinder
Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka and growing up in Lidcombe, NSW, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran explained to me that moving to Paddington to study was something of a culture shift, one he did not necessarily embrace. However he explains he was drawn to the arts scene, during breaks in his classes he would haunt various local galleries and bookshops. Starting with a Fine Arts Degree with Honours before completing a Master of Fine Arts, Ramesh has spent a total of 7 years at UNSWA&D. He embraced and enjoyed taking up as many diverse mediums as possible during this time and values the community available to him and the opportunities and the facilities he was given to produce work and to exhibit.
His current primary practice is working with ceramics and sculpture. The list of inspirations for Nithiyendran in his art practice includes religion, art history, atheism, porn, personal experience and the internet. He is interested in gender representation and the symbolism and ideology surrounding gender identity. In particular, Nithiyendran is interested in cultural paradigms of phallus worship. Much of his work stems from the ideology and iconography of Catholicism and Hinduism with which he grew up, and is concerned with modern limitations of culture and civilisation, exploring pre-colonial portrayals of the masculine.
The images below come from his submission in the NSW Visual Arts Fellowship exhibition at Artspace in 2014. The ceramic works explore a sense of eroticism, the abject and the profane, while the gender ambiguous figures installed on plinths in the gallery space also reference the sacred.
Nithiyendran describes his practice as a ‘hand-based practice’, wherein seeing traces of the artist’s process in the work appeals to him. He consciously abates the trend towards the digital in contemporary art practice in order to value the humanism in art practice.
I asked Nithiyendran what was up next. He replied ‘I’m trying pretty hard to keep on top of things!’ Nithiyendran recently received the NSW Visual Arts Fellowship (Emerging) so he is busy planning residencies in Europe and India. He told me he is also preparing for a residency at the Claymarch Gimhae Museum in Korea under the mentorship of contemporary ceramics artist Vipoo Srivilasa in July this year. In that same month Nithiyendran will exhibit as part of the Australian Ceramics Triennale and will show work at Sydney Contemporary in September, as well as a solo show he has planned for next year. It is an exciting time.
This post is part of the Art Month Event Creative Paddington taking place on March 7th in conjunction with Metro Screen and UNSW Art & Design.
Elephant Island, 2014, installation view, Artspace, Sydney, Photo: Zan Wimberley
Idol, 2014, red terracotta, 89 x 60 x 46 cm. Image © and courtesy of the artist and Gallery 9, Sydney.
Blowhole 2, 2014, red terracotta, white earthenware, glaze, gold lustre and platinum lustre. Image © and courtesy of the artist and Gallery 9, Sydney.