As a young student, Sri Lankan-born artist Muhanned Cader was enthralled by British adventurer John Still’s Jungle Tide, a 1930s-era memoir of his time on what was then the island nation of Ceylon.
Jungle Tide features Muhanned Cader’s latest series of paintings, drawings, and collages – each a vivid reflection of one of the artist’s favorite subjects and inspirations: the natural world. Framed within organically sinuous forms, Cader’s landscapes draw viewers into a familiar, yet unrecognizable realm. Concealing as much as they reveal, these pockets of iridescent landscape hint at the invisible, the hidden – within and beyond their boundaries. Cader’s work suggests the influence of John Still’s Jungle Tide, a British eccentric’s description of what was then Ceylon – a book the artist read while in school in Sri Lanka, finding it not unfaithful to the mystery and vigor of the country’s natural terrain. Drawing on a close observation of nature, Cader’s works nevertheless disorient and de-familiarize, exploring the atypical shapes and juxtapositions residing within even the well-known and familiar environment.
Muhanned Cader’s work emerges from a practice that is experimental and open-ended. His works have been influenced by his life in Sri Lanka and his education in Western artistic traditions of landscapes. Themes of post-colonialism, possession and control shape his works, which investigate the visual world. Working with the Sri Lankan landscape, both sociopolitical and natural, and the sea, Cader depicts scenes of daily life. His paintings bring in to focus his use of color and shape with precision mark-making. His drawings and collages seem to break free from their four-sided boundaries while remaining within the confines of the paper, done so using color blocking to separate the art from the support. Intimate and exquisitely rendered, Cader always retains an element of the handmade – making vivid the limitations as well the power of the human presence within the natural world.
Muhanned Cader was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1966, where he currently lives and works. He earned his Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1994. Since then, he has participated in several international projects. His work has been featured at the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT) at Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia; 1st Singapore Biennale; Burger Collection, Hong Kong; 1st Lahore Biennale, Pakistan; Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh; Devi Art Foundation, India; 2nd Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kochi, India; Herbert Johnson Museum at Cornell University, New York and Nasher Museum at Duke University, North Carolina.