I draw my inspiration from what I have been through in life, such as love, pain and anger, says Gayan Prageeth Samaranayaka. The 29-year-old artist says he brings out this conflict between aspiration and fate, in the work he has presented at his first solo exhibition at Paradise Road Galleries.
Working for this exhibition, he dealt with the paroxysms between love, pain and anger focussing on the loss of love. Gayan says, I paint my life and the figures that can be seen in the paintings are me. There are things I want to tell society, he says adding what society sees is one thing but what is going on is another.
Born in Karachi in 1950, Mir studied at the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts before moving to Canada where he graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 1976. He then lived briefly in New York before returning to Pakistan where he set up his own advertising agency. However, he continued to paint and exhibit his work and was one of the founders of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture.
Mir belongs to a culture which boasts a long tradition of pattern-making and abstract geometry, a culture in which mathematics and astronomy have been of paramount importance. But it is also significant that he studied and lived for many years in North America. It was in New York in the late 1970s, then a hothouse of abstract expressionism where he encountered the work of Pollock, Calder, de Kooning, Kline and Rothko, and where he was invited to exhibit.
The defining feature of Lasantha ChandanaKumara’s art is its square central focus. Although he admits to an unplanned style of painting, this curious theme emanates in all his subtle compositions. It is the subconscious consequence of his farm life upbringing in rural Sri Lanka where the square outline mirrors the shape of a paddy field.
A number of group exhibitions and workshops have dotted Lasantha’s career as an artist, the most recent being his participation in the Theertha International Artists Workshop held in Hantane this year. In addition to receiving awards for his creative work, several of Lasantha’s paintings can be found in the Presidential Contemporary Art Collection, Jetwing House Collection and Paradise Road Galleries Collection.
These paintings are about me, yes I know that’s vain, but I think I have the right because It’s my the paintings. But more importantly, they are about being an artist at the age of 33, a period of our lives when we should probably be a bit more stable or have something that is more secure. It’s a scary thought to know that you don’t have a steady paycheck or some assets to fall back on. That wouldn’t have bothered me in my 20’s but for some reason now, it does.
This exhibition is about growing up and making decisions about success, whether financial or artistic, it is about what is considered valuable in life, and the choices we make that shape what we are. The catch for me is that I can never give up painting, despite the downfall and what I dislike. But what it comes down is that when I’m in the studio by myself, it’s a beautiful thing. So I guess it’s simply real Painters paint.
I see a junk tossing on a stylised wave, Queen Victoria glimpsed in a tropical garden, a soldier made of flowers, eyes, and birds standing strong with his sword. Sri Lanka, described in brochures as a place of eternal springtime, is represented through images cuts from encyclopedias, magazines, sources of reliable and truthful visual information. Inserted into heady landscapes of paint, a ghostly apparition of a colonial past emerges from the mist while its the white shadow in the form of an octopus glides across the painted surface, icons of Western and Eastern cultures collide. These are history paintings drawing on the unconscious and irrational using surreal collaged methods to make sense of memories and stories that are deeply buried in the Sri Lankan psyche. If this place is a Garden of Eden, a place of earthly delights, why do the soldiers sideways glance betray an inner uncertainty, his body seems raw, flayed to reveal muscle and guts, an eye for his heart?
I am seduced by the beauty of these pictures and drawn to look closer but as I do they reveal a turbulent world constructed from stories, gods, icons and symbols, traces of empire and capitalist desire. Figures seem cloaked in fictional idealized viewpoints, physically trapped in these projections. Looking down at the soldier’s feet he stands on an archaeological terrain of skulls, bones and discarded body parts from an anatomical dictionary, chunks of images cut from their diagrammatic function and compressed into a layer of geographical strata. I want to enter this world but I sense many dangers and perhaps all is not as it might seem.
Dr. Liz Stirling
Space is imperative to the enjoyment. For an artist to whom providing a sensory treat to the beholder of his work is as important as expression, as space remains both a valuable tool and a means through which to connect. Space does not have boundaries or limitations. Thus only a bird in reality or metaphorically can soar high and across expanses in a flight of enjoyment and wonder. Unfortunately, though space is also one key aspect of our human lives that is strongly compromised. Be it with the task and urgencies of a contemporary city life, unchecked and unwarranted competitions or the demands of our existence, the bird within each of us is forced to walk on ground instead of soaring in free space. Thus is thus the attempt of an artist and his still soaring spirit to instill his thoughts, soul, and thought-scape on the surface of a humble canvas.
Sampath’s work is constantly evolving. Experimental arts being Sampath’s area of interest, he blends his imagination with different styles to bring out his themes. Sometimes he incorporates human figures and traditional designs into the background, he says. Or he uses paint throws and prints to add more colour, at other times its the scraping effect, Sampath explains. If colour patches and brush strokes were quite predominant in his early paintings, it’s a different approach that Sampath has adopted of late and followers of his work.
Most of the paintings on display at the exhibition are done in black and white, he explains. I believe these two colours are more appropriate in discussing my themes; for example, black and white are symbolic of good and evil of human nature, he says.
Sanjeewa Kumara was born in 1971 in Colombo. He is visiting lecturer for visual art at Kelaniya University Sri Lanka. He holds a MFA from the Netherlands and had many solo and group exhibitions, inside and outside Sri Lanka. His works for some years has been within the framework of a self-styled project. That interest and observe the Sri Lankanism.