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 that I don’t want to refer 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 is very important to my work.
What is special about painting; pictures’ is that I can lie with it endlessly. There are no boundaries.
Space always affects the mind of its inhabitants; therefore, limited space always results in a narrow-minded thinking pattern. In our day to day, life. We encounter so many individuals who suffer from narrow-mindedness. This particular thinking pattern which emerges as a result of the limited space of this island predominate social, political and economic dissuasions of our island. So, my visual creations can be interpreted as an attempt which analyzes the formative lifestyle of this wonderland, through contemporary visual forms.
When special identities are transcended by economic reality we encounter simulations that are deprived of substance.
J C RATHNAYAKE
Moods always reflect our inner-feelings as a mirror. The French word “Humuers” beautifully describes this phenomenon. Moods of many modern individuals are gloomy because of the frustrated capitalism of our contemporary society. It’s always creating nonrealistic targets and those targets ultimately create dissatisfaction which is leading us to follow up with superstition and metaphysics. It directs us not to get rid from this material calamity but to gather many unlimited hopes about material values. This as well continues the wicked process of contemporary Sri Lankan’s political influence and economical system fueling dissatisfaction. The worst-case scenario is there dissatisfied feelings change our moods to discontent. Therefore, I attempt to reveal this hidden political and economic crisis and try to make an awareness about it by visualizing those “Humuers” in my compositions.
Natural details of any Surface in nature is defined by an imaginary format and I present the abstract form using colourful shapes in these drawings. My primary effort is to express the conceptual idea in this narrative format based on colour, space, shape and volume of the language of art. Presented drawings are the abstract formation of the essence of the natural features, actual visible colour and the depth of the surface.
Vajira is unquestionably the best-known Sri Lankan artist perpetuating the legacy of Basquiat, Haring, Combas, Ouzani, and Cuban Sosabravo. Inspired by their vision challenging the existing order, innumerable anonymous youth transformed our urban environment, their motivation and expression rooted in humanity’s origins. Known today as “street art”, “graffiti”, or “tags”, it has become an international movement of unrestrained creativity, a vivid and contradictory expression of the anxieties and dreams of our societies in crisis. Sri Lanka is no exception! With this exhibition, Vajira draws an uncompromising portrait. Essentially, artists are rebels; among them is Vajira Gunawardena.
Writer and Critic, France
One has to accept being a human being before one is an artist. ‘Figures Assembled’ is my fifth solo exhibition of paintings. We, who dream of an endless orgasm of overconsumption, have failed as human beings. It is a responsibility and a duty to create even a minimal space such as this. In a moment where even people are turned into things, we are in a process of becoming post-people even as we are becoming a collective that is ‘solitary although together’. We don’t change the system but the system changes us. This exhibition comes to you against the traumatic background of this deadly moment. Come fly with the other having recognized even a minimal form of human feeling. Let us displace the identity of competition to a collective identity.
Line, balance and composition – with these simple elements, Sujith Rathnayake distils the essence of visual art to its pristine state. Using a single uninterrupted stroke in graphite on a whiteboard, devoid of colour, texture and other superficialities, he breathes life into form, with mood, movement, strength and power.
Writer on art and culture
Anup Vega’s work playfully inherits a celebration of light, an essential dynamic of elements and energy through which is born ‘the 10,000 things’.
Born, 1967 in Kurunegala, a central mountainous province of Sri Lanka, Vega was drawn towards painting at an early childhood age by a transcendental experience, a spell of light, shapes and textures in which to play and direct.
Vega’s work later transformed its direction towards inquiries upon self, harmony, the natural world and the nature of illusion.
‘Joy is freedom, exploring, discovering the freedom, of course, it is not easy. To inherit – Joy is for no reason.’ – Anup Vega, 2017
Isaac Smith, Double Bassist and Creative Music Facilitator
During the journey of my art creations, I am unable to confirm a specific identity at different stages of the creative process. The point of expression is based on the necessity of the creation.
Accordingly, the life I experienced during my stay in a foreign country contributes to my painting series, the conflicts of life in the lives of people around me, including myself. In this global economy identity of people has been abstract. When I was working in a warehouse I realized that people including myself were trapped in the “Modern Slavery” system. There I discovered discontent.
Here, the basic creations are based on “I” and can be described as the mirror of life of others around me. The globally coded barcode is used as a symbolic form for the living sentiments of digitizing people.
As an artist I desire to bring poetic beauty into what I create. So I attempt to express spirituality of human beings and their nature rather than materialism. As ordinary human beings we are in search of happiness therefore, modern man as a victim of the consumer society attempts to gather each and everything which creates capitalism and thereby ultimately lose their happiness. But the real bliss of our mind is not depending on materialistic things but the renunciation of the material world. This time I depict the real bliss of the soul which emerges in our mind as a result of sacrificing materialism and utilizing amazing colours on canvas.
It’s my memory flashing back to 2006. I still remember the way I started doing my painting. While I was crossing ‘Diyawanna lake’. I was much impressed & delighted with the environment and it made me start drawing the beauty of Mother Nature. When turning and looking back at the past I now realize how things have changed due to so-called “urbanization” or in other words “development “. My perspective too got changed as a result and a series of distinct paintings came out with new dimensions which encapsulated the beauty and serenity of the lake. The old lake which was in 2006 has totally changed due to an artificial landscape of the area. It changed the status within myself too. My paintings which I drew under the concept of monochrome, changed and added a bit of colour which depicts more glamour to the paintings I do in my view.
It is 18 years since the death of George Claessen, aged 89, in London and 69 years since he left the shores of this island for the last time, in 1949. Yet the fascination of Sri Lankan with this artist, sculptor and poet is undiminished. The interest, enthusiasm and demand for Claessen’s work seem to grow with the passing of time. This 4th exhibition of his work in Colombo since 1993 has been greatly anticipated.
Today there are no survivors of the ’43 Group. Keeping the memory of the collective of nine artists who heralded modern art in Sri Lanka is more important than ever, now that Neville Weereratne, who has done so much to record its history, is no more. Although one would argue that the impact of the Group was such, that it has left an indelible mark in the history of art in this island and beyond.
This enigmatic, quiet and unassuming artist produced work that ranged from naturalistic, impressionistic to abstract, and apart from his animal paintings and few figurative works, they are largely Western in style and content, considering he started his life as an artist, sketching ancient ruins of Anuradhapura. His passion was for abstract paintings and abstract expressionism in particular. To quote him “in my life as an artist I accepted the fact that the way that I was developing would inevitably lead me into pure abstract painting”. He believed that this was his contribution to art.
I was fortunate and privileged to get to know him during the last five years of his life, working the monograph on him. It was to be a tribute to him on his 90th birthday. It was the cause of much sadness that he did not live to see the record of his work.
Claessen’s work have been shown in many collective and individual exhibitions during his lifetime and after, in Colombo, Melbourne, Paris, Venice, São Paulo, Ibiza and London. It is a rare privilege to see such a large collection of his work in one place. Shanth Fernando and his team, Esmeralda Claessen and Wolf Sulhan are to be congratulated for putting this great show together.
Author of ‘George Claessen Artist, Sculptor and Poet, 1909-99
Paradise Isle Publications, London (2000)
“The nature of love is translated into different forms, shapes and colours”
My love for a work of art is an intimate affair, which is why I long to own the work so I can live with it- touch it, move it around, and have it as my own. When the work is abstract, there are endless reasons for my attraction.
Abstract art is an abstraction. It does not represent anything. It is nonobjective. Instead of depicting what I recognize in the world of objects, people and nature, abstract art is concerned with color, line, form, and texture. It is not reality-based but emotionally-based. It is expressive and gestural. As an artist, I am driven to express what I see and feel.
What has influenced my current series of paintings is the beauty of the prayer flags of various
shapes and colours used in religious culture in the Asian region. These flags are used as a
symbol either for a vow or for hope and these vows are made in hope of a better future than
the present that is being experienced. The only person who really knows what the vow or the
wish for hope is the person who makes it.
The prayer flag tradition has a long continuous history dating back to ancient Tibet, China,
Persia, India and Sri Lanka. The meanings behind prayer flag texts and symbols, indeed
behind the whole idea of prayer flags, are based on the most profound concepts of religious belief and philosophy.