To be unapologetic as an artist is to truly explore things that you feel very personal to and not really care what anyone else thinks… In terms of what did it take? A lot of life experience and therapy haha!MURUGIAH
The following interview forms part of a series where I invite contemporary artists to each reflect on their personal history, meaning, and philosophy, and how those are embedded throughout their creative process.
This week I talk to MURUGIAH, whose works are described as “surreal, joyful, loud and unapologetic”. His exploration in colour is partly a drive towards understanding his Sri Lankan heritage. Having previously expressed his feeling as a “conduit” between Sri Lankan and British cultures, I wondered how that experience is expressed artistically, and what it took for him to be truly unapologetic as an artist.
In a previous interview you said, “I act as a conduit between my Sri Lankan heritage and my life as it is right now. I was born and raised in the U.K., so I’m very British, but I look in the mirror and I’m brown-skinned.” What’s it like for you being this ‘conduit’? Would you say that particular aspect of your experience is expressed in your works?
In terms of what it’s like being a conduit, I would say it’s fun! It’s enriching to know that there is this whole other side to my heritage that I can explore. Cultures and ideologies that are different to the ones I have developed as a British citizen. To answer your second question, yes. At the moment the particular thing that I am exploring is understanding colour. My interest in colour and passion for the bright colours I use. Where does it come from? What part of my upbringing draws me to to bright fun colours..?
Your pieces are described as “surreal, joyful, loud and unapologetic”. What does it mean to you to be unapologetic as an artist? What did it take for you to become that way?
To be unapologetic as an artist is to truly explore things that you feel very personal to and not really care what anyone else thinks. I think if one is exploring their own personal interests and experiences, one learns to be more confident in how to express them. In terms of what did it take? A lot of life experience and therapy haha!
Are you guided by any essential philosophy in your creative expression?
Just one at the moment: Find the thing that is uniquely you and embrace it with open arms.
Is there an artwork of yours that stands out in this moment as being particularly meaningful to you?
I would say my piece of work “Herald” [shown below]. It wasn’t the first piece in this newer style developed in early 2020 but once I had made it I had a realisation that I could make work in a more unique way that felt personal to me.
Who are some other South Asian artists you think we should be paying more attention to?
Doaly and Rhea Bambulu are two that I follow and inspire me. There are not many that I am aware of. They are out there though.
If you were to design a new piece that emulated your current experience of the world, what might it include?
I would say look to my piece Lake Shore Drive II (night) [shown above]. This is how I am currently experiencing the world.