In this self-portrait Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran depicts himself as an avatar. ‘My arms are outstretched and I’m ascending towards an imaginative realm,’ he says. ‘By portraying this narrative, I wanted to connect to mythologies across times and regions where humans have engaged in experiences beyond the rational world. Judeo-Christian, Buddhist and Hindu narratives were of particular interest.
‘This is the largest painting I’ve made, produced in my Western Sydney studio in one sitting with only three brushes and a pair of gloves. I wanted to harness the vitality and life force of painting. The current global situation obliges us to form new relationships with touch and tactility, so I felt it important to capture immediate, energetic gestures and preserve traces of my hand in the work’s surface.’
Born in Sri Lanka in 1988, Nithiyendran came to Australia in 1989 as a refugee and now lives and works in Sydney. He has a Master and Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of New South Wales. This is his second consecutive year as an Archibald Prize finalist.