I like to work with the traditional medium of oil paints. I think it might be my interest in art history and my feeling that I wanted to be part of a line of development of man – from the cave painters 35,000 years ago to the present, people paint. Essentially, we use the same tools – a stick with some hair on the end of it and minerals from the earth mixed with some oil. I love that sense that I am doing the same thing that people have always done. Of course, as a medium, oil painting is characteristically slow. However I try to react fast. I have a rather direct and fast relationship and attitude towards pictures. What is special about painting pictures is that I can lie with it endlessly. There are no boundaries. Other mediums such as photography and cinema, still carry with them traces of authentic realty. Painting does not start from reality, and that makes it unique.
Today painting is recognized as a traditional media. But painting still has specific capacities of its own to discover and exploit. An abstract painting or abstract expressionistic painting is rarely a picture; an abstract painting is a painting because it dwells primarily on the material and surface. But ‘picture’ implies a space one goes into. I am moving more and more in the direction of not referring to my images as paintings. I myself suggest the term ‘picture’. This word has a more general meaning. But with its reference to depiction it is very close to ideas of representation. Pictures are evoking imaginary spheres and they go beyond amusement or exotic. The uncanny, the fantastic, the marvelous, the hesitation, the supernatural and the uncertainty are very important in my work. The language of my ‘pictures’ is where (y)our desire is placed. My art is predominantly an art of surprise. It is self-protest against conceptual and minimal art.
For many years I painted natural forms; like landscapes, humans, animals and plants in classical techniques. It refreshed the basics of my drawing techniques of line and perspective, which I had learned at an early age. But due to my experience as a sculptor, I was no longer satisfied with flat surfaces. Parallel to these motives, I began to create with the idea of three-dimensional paintings. Technically that did not mean molding a relief, but create the impression of being inside, or going through the painting, rather than viewing it from outside.
Twenty years ago, I went to the Andaman Islands in India on a holiday from Pakistan. That is where I first saw Banyan trees. Since then, it was deep inside my conscience. Ten years later, when I arrived in Sri Lanka for the first time, I saw the Banyan trees again. Primitivism and strong life of this tree became my main theme from that moment.
I like using perspective form which is very different from Japanese art. Using Acrylic paint is a very practical method. I don’t use oil at all. I have developed my own technique by combining Japanese and European art techniques.
I am searching to find the rhythm of nature. I tried to simplify the forms and strip them down to bare essentials. These works are abstract and they express the journey of life. My works symbolically depict human existence, which is eternal and ultimate. My inspiration is varied; Bengali, Far Eastern art, and both traditional paintings of Sri Lanka and India.
Use of colour has a symbolic and eternal aspect, and I try to evoke the inner beauty in a structure. The feeling is linear and juxtaposed with light and shade as well as negative and positive space, thus creating a chiaroscuro background. This also implies the philosophy of Maya: what appears before us is not limited what is seen, it goes beyond.
My paintings are a journey and metaphorically represent the way of our life or the ‘Sansara’.
Rubert Soysa’s abstracts are dominated by nameless human figures and their diverse moods and the artists work is influenced by the classical abstract painting tradition and pioneer painters like Pablo Picasso and Van Gogh as well as by the age-old Sri Lankan temple paintings.
Soysa is conveying philosophical ideas of life, subjecting his paintings to multiple interpretations and readings. At a closer look, they are human figures under myriads of shades and colours. From a broader perspective, they are universal human figures that belong to no particular culture yet at another level, they depict the harsh lives of the workers, portraying their pangs. These faces depict complexities of emotions ranging from extreme happiness to melancholy, fatigue, tiredness and a sense of uncertainty in life.
Indeewara Thilakarathne, Co-Editor of Mosaic, Cultural Magazine of Ceylon Today
These works not only encapsulates the forms of natures, its lines and depth but also the feelings and emotions evoked in the artist influenced by the landscape itself.
How wonderful is freely floating cloud or an intensely hued dancing kite? The detached leaves of yellow from a tree, experiencing the soft blows of breeze brought me an undefined happiness. The unattained pieces of paper scattered on the floor, Vesak (Buddhist ceremony) lanterns meditating on either sides of the road, some incomplete, wearing their skeleton forms. And flags following the rhythm of chanting. I observed them. What do they really teach us?
Every artistic creation I have presented is of the above fact. Expanding the concept of “Impermanency”, I Exchanged rapid beats of thoughts with my conscious, and thus personifying the canvas. Coming in terms with tolerance, resisting the shocks and exploring the unlimited ecstasy of the artistic world, I developed my brush strokes, impatient and with constant freedom.
The simplicity of my image is deceptive; and though they are often happy, beautiful images, my pictures force the viewer to delve into their unconscious (both the Freudian concepts of the unconscious and the uncanny are underlying themes). The uncanny, the fantastic, the marvelous, the hesitation and the supernatural is very important to my work. .
The tug of war between what is deemed as good and bad, positive and negative, right and wrong; creates a society, a person and its values. These values are then used to interpret and judge others and ones.
surroundings. The best way is the middle; the middle line. This line is unbiased. The balance gives rise to true enjoyment and life.
The works in this show are coming from different times – they can’t be put under the usual label of ‘recent works’ – for such a naming will imply that this is a body of work that can be bound together by a temporal thread. They cannot be. But even as they come from different times and with different associations, for me – like all my works have always been – they are about violence and loss in the widest sense of the two concepts.
Paradise Road Galleries presents an exhibition of paintings by Chathurika Jayani, Gayan Prageeth, Jagath Ravindra, Kingsley Gunatillake, Sanjeewa Kumara, Sarath Gunasiri Perera and Vajira Gunawardena.