SUNDAY OBSERVER Sunday Observer - Magazine
Sunday, 2 November 2003  
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Mihintalava - The Birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhist Civilization

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International Artists Camp 2003: 

Art in a consumer culture

A dream of re-writing South Asian art. This was how a Sri Lankan artist who participated in the seventh International Artists Camp 2003 of the George Keyt Foundation regarded this inter-cultural exchange of thirteen local and international artists.

“The Media’s Rising Effluvium” by Sudath Abeysekera at the International Artists’ Exhibition. 
Pix:Tilak Perera

The resulting art from the artist-interaction of Sri Lanka, India, the Netherlands, Norway, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Switzerland and Russia, which took place at "The Habarana" hotel complex, was exhibited last week at the Harold Peiris Gallery of the Lionel Wendt Art Centre.

Although the artists belonged to the modern camp, each had his own translation of modernity, observed Cedric de Silva, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, George Keyt Foundation. "The benefit of their interaction in sharing information and methods of artistic production can be seen in the correspondence which follows, and the opportunities which open up to them through such alliances."

The group of artists comprised Sudath Abeysekera, Channa Ekanayake, Niloo Gunasekera, Sunil Jayantha Ekanayake, Dhammika Akmeemana, Santhoshini Jayasekera, Basil Cooray, Sanjeewa Kumara, Namali Priyadarshinee, Chandra Kumara Rathnayake, Helaka Ruwanpura, Harsha M. Samarasinghe, K.D. Lakshman Senadeera and Reenajit Shergill (Sri Lanka); Monika Bachli (Switzerland); Jiska Hartog, Michiel Henneman, Marion Bowhuis and Noella Roos (Netherlands); Olga Dimitri (Russia); Hanna Hoiness (Norway); Gulshan Hossain and Nazia Andaleeb Preema (Bangladesh); G.R. Iranna and Satyaranjan Sarkar (India); Ali Kazim and Sadaf Naurain (Pakistan).

‘Candy Cousins’ by Sanjeewa Kumara

NORAD, John Keells Group and SriLankan Airlines sponsored the artist camp.

The George Keyt Foundation is committed to honouring George Keyt through promoting art and assisting Sri Lankan artists including painters, sculptors, musicians and writers and establishing a gallery of modern Sri Lankan art. It also described Keyt as one who did not belong to the school of thought which believes in "desperate or delirious imagery."

The catalogue issued by the Foundation for this year's artist camp quotes him as having stated, "..I repudiate that alleged art which is the result of an element in art being seized on and emphasised to the extent of doing away with the art itself! There can be more or less of that element apparent or obvious in genuine work of art - and there is any amount of it, particularly in the wonderful music and sculpture and painting and literature of India; but not merely that element projected in desperate and delirious imagery allowing such scope for sheer humbug."

In describing some thoughts which emerged at the camp, artist Sanjeewa Kumara says, "We cannot create pure art in a consumer culture. We call such consumer society art, a visual art. In such a culture, there is no high art or low art, and art gains a saleable value, at a price."

Sanjeewa Kumara's fourth solo local exhibition of drawings and paintings, titled 'Candy Cousins', is currently displayed at the Paradise Road Galleries, continuing until November 14.

An appraisal of 'Candy Cousins' reads, "He finds his motifs from colonialism and post-colonialism, the period between 1555-1977 which contrasts the Western visual aesthetic with South Indian traditional art, spiritual art and craft. Colonial expression is the meeting between European and Asian peoples... Over 450 years of colonialization and 30 years of independence communicate this trans-cultural conversion..

His works establish a forum to discuss these crucial issues." Sanjeewa holds a Master's Degree in Fine Arts from the Dutch Art Institute, Netherlands where he had held two solo exhibitions.

His last, "Uncanny Personalities" held at Paradise Road Galleries is described as a turning point in his life.

He represents a fusion of "popular and unpopular historical elements combining them as visual pastiche and tries to synchronize them into an own visual style, reflecting trans-cultural hybrid images." Sanjeewa has taken part in many group exhibitions in Germany,the Netherlands and Sri Lanka. - J.L.


30 + 5 = A Celebration!

It's going to be a gala celebration indeed with none other than Sri Lanka's superstar Mariazelle Goonetilleke, who takes friends and fans down memory lane at a not to-be-missed concert on November 26 at the BMICH.

Mariazelle GoonetillekeSays Mariazelle: "To have remained as I am in the music scene for 35 years, retaining and who and what I am is a most difficult thing. It's a feeling of elation because of the struggles I have faced to come out on top.

This concert is also an occasion to say 'thank you' to everyone who has helped me with love in their hearts and made my name what it is today. I am grateful to the 'Three Roses Sports and Welfare Club' - Kalubowila, for agreeing to help organise this concert despite the many obstacles".

30 + 5 = A celebration will feature Sohan Weerasinghe, Dalreen Suby, Wathsala Goonetilleke, Bathiya and Santhush, The Junior Rhythmiers, Piyal Perera and Chandral Fonseka, among others. They will be backed by the band "Kings", along with violinists, flutists, and a tablist. Also taking the floor will be Chandana Wickremasinghe, Rajini Selvanayagam, Pradeepa Ariyawansa and El Latino in some colourful Latin American and modern oriental dance routines.

This show is sponsored by the Sunday Observer and the Sarasaviya, and is in aid of Ward 16 (Maternity) of the Colombo South National Hospital at Kalubowila.


Oppression : exhibition of wooden sculpture

An exhibit

Those who work with wood invariably speak of a deep emotional involvement with the material itself. Wood is warm, alive. It has texture, grain, colour and aroma. B. Wimalaratne chose wood for his creations solely because he found that he could relate his emotions with wood.

Mr. Wimalaratne's 3rd solo exhibition of wooden sculpture, on the theme of 'Oppression' opens at the Alliance Francaise de Colombo on November 6. It will be opened by chairman Mount Lavinia Hotel Sanath Ukwatte, and will be open to the public from November 7-10.Wimalaratne's sculptures often give the feeling that he had to work from the inside out rather than from outside in. He radically advanced wood carving by introducing stylistic abstract forms, while retaining all the necessary elements of sculpture-volume, mass, space, and formal coherence.

Wimalaratne's form of sculpture and paintings are mostly of an abstract nature. From most of his works, the oppression of human beings in society is expressed. Also, he tries to convey the history of man's confrontation with nature and ultimate victory.

Mr. Wimalaratne obtained his preliminary education at 'Piyatissa Maha Vidyalaya' Kalegana. He entered the University of Ceylon, Colombo in 1965. After only six months of education there he left the university out of total desperation over the environment and joined the People's Bank.

He used his position in the bank to explore every opportunity to improve his artistic talents. He was among the famous Sri Lankan artists like George Keyt, Senaka Senanayake and Pushpananda Weerasinghe who adorned various floors of the new

people's Bank head office at Parsons Road.

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