Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran - Idols of Mud and Water

Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran - Idols of Mud and Water
Date 25th Nov 2023 - 21st Apr 2024 Price Free - Drop-in - no ticket required Location Tramway



The first solo exhibition in the UK and Europe for the Sydney-based artist

Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran was born in Colombo, Sri-Lanka in 1988 and has lived in Australia since 1989.  He crafts exuberant ceramic sculptures inspired by global histories of figuration, as well as contemporary influences. 

Evoking ancient deities or totemic idols, his ritualistic sculptures gesture to shared histories, multiplicity and plural cultural identities. Colourful, hybrid, human-animal sculptures echo the coexistent belief systems that reflect the artist’s own ancestry, inspired by iconography and mythological narratives from across South Asia.

Exploring these themes through a contemporary lens, Ramesh’s sculptures explore his own multifarious influences. Though they resemble ancient idols, his figures are often adorned in contemporary fashions or reflect a queer sensibility. Lathered in colourful glazes and adopting playful poses, they are often performative or engaged in some form of heightened display, introducing electricity, neon and other contemporary raw elements into an otherwise ancient visual language. 

For Idols of Mud and Water, Ramesh dramatically populates Tramway's main gallery with a melange of multi-limbed, fertility, guardian, protector, joker and warrior figures. This new body of sculptures is housed amongst an improvised, makeshift architectural ‘temple’ structure, made from a range of repurposed materials including bamboo, scaffolding and recycled timber. Connected by a narrative of mud and water, the installation evokes the feeling that visitors are entering a flooded ruin or a space of dreams and divinations. Tramway becomes, in the artist’s words, a ‘buzzing mythological playground’ in which queer politics, anthropomorphism, monumentality and popular culture combine to create new, speculative mythologies. 

Funded by Creative Australia, Creative Scotland and the Henry Moore Foundation

More about Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran

Nithiyendran received his BA/BFA from the University of New South Wales in 2011 and a MFA from the University of New South Wales in 2013. His work had been exhibited widely in solo and group shows internationally, including: Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Delhi (2023); Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah (2022); Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2022); The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, New South Wales (2021); Melbourne Art Foundation, Melbourne (2020); Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney (2019); Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Casula (2019); Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne (2016); The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (2016); Dhaka Art Summit, Dhaka (2016); Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Adelaide (2016); Kuandu Biennale, Taipei (2016); Shepparton Art Museum, Victoria (2015); Gallery 9, Sydney (2015).

Image: Idols of Mud and Water, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Tramway 2023.
Installation photo Keith Hunter

Below: In a short video, Ramesh introduces his Tramway installation
7 mins 17 secs, subtitled

Download the gallery map

A large multi-limbed figure draped in neon, in Tramway's vast main gallery

Image gallery

Idols of Mud and Water, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Tramway 2023.
Installation photos by Keith Hunter