‘SH Fifty’ – 1968-2018 Retrospective exhibition : S.H. Sarath Art As Dart – Brush as Barb | Sunday Observer

‘SH Fifty’ – 1968-2018 Retrospective exhibition : S.H. Sarath Art As Dart – Brush as Barb

“Rules and regulations destroy genius and art”
- William Hazlitt (1778-1830) British Essayist.

For even the best composed definition, Artist S.H. Sarath is an intricately complex, highly recalcitrant theme.

I am not too sure if we can come to terms adequately, with the impish irony lurking within him or the satirical shafts stored in his inner creative armoury.

S.H. Sarath’s art is ultrasensitive to the swiftly veering social and cultural fluctuations. As a logical outcome of this development his art can, in no way be confined to a given period, phase or an era.

Engaged in an imaginative pilgrimage, seeking the most apt means of articulating the vision specific to him, S.H. Sarath has, by now, trekked past the 50th year of his chequered career.

The average individual, who would have striven hard over half-a-century, pursuing the goal he has opted for, would want to pause at least momentarily at this significant milepost, to take a panoptic view of the landscape he has travelled through.

Artist S.H. Sarath, on the other hand, would rather mark the occasion, routinely and will want to ‘air’ some of his latest creations for his patrons and well wishers.

His long career-trajectory began in a village in the Deep South and climaxed at the top of the world as it were, at the UN – where he recently displayed a selection of his paintings, under the patronage of Dr. Amrith Rohan Perera, Ambassador and Sri Lanka’s permanent representative at the UN.

By common consent S.H. Sarath is currently well-settled (and comfortably too, I believe) as a permanent presence in the mainstream of Sri Lankan Art.

Propelled by an inner restlessness, he keeps on producing his creations at a steady pace, indulging in a non-stop exploration of idioms and styles that befits his latest reflections on life as he sees it. Through a strange stroke of inexplicable luck I have been able to keep track of his evolution over a considerably long period of time.

Way back in 1991 commenting on his 22nd exhibition, I made this observation: “When everything is said and done, here is an entirely evolved Sarath. The variety he offers, justifies the characterisation of his Art Exhibition as a “Festival”. Besides, he possesses the gift to transform each of his exhibitions into a folk-festival. In his 22nd exhibition we are seeing Sarath, well on his way towards a uniqueness of style and concept, that will earn him a place, without any doubt, among the ‘greats’.

My specific intention, in introducing the above ‘quote’, is to indicate that during the intervening 27 years (1991-2018), Sarath, in actuality evolved into the status of a ‘great’.

To my mind, the unswerving hallmark of his Art is his unshaken professionalism. He is always on the look out to learn, to expand the horizons of his professional capacity.

In a kind of retrospective survey of the half century he has passed, S.H. Sarath has planned ‘A’ Retrospective Exhibition fittingly and briefly titled ‘S.H. Fifty’.

This display takes place at the JDA Perera Gallery on July 2, 3, 4 and 5.

S.H. Sarath’s innermost soul is perpetually agitated by a ceaseless sense of exploration. The startling outcome of this, is the eruption of a surprising range of works, that can well be described as ‘eccentric’ in the positive and wholesome sense. His stylistic variations are starkly unorthodox for the most part.

In the early days, the announcement of an upcoming exhibition by author S.H. Sarath, was quite likely to engender in the would-be viewers a suspenseful hesitation, about the kind of monster or angel (or for that matter monstro-angel) he is going to unleash in the public domain, this time around.

In recent times, when his soul suffered debilitating assaults seeing the social injustice that victimises the helpless masses at large, S.H. Sarath evolved a whimsical monochrome format to register these collective ‘deformities’ of people.

These have a telling impact upon the viewers, through their surprising whimsicality.

S.H. Sarath’s art has gone through a whole scene of ‘vicissitudes’.

At one stage, he took a marked delight in articulating his ethereal dreams in a variety of colour combinations.

In the course of one stage in his evolution, Sarath emerged as an ‘adult’ artist, who has decidedly discarded adolescence and has reached out to creative manhood. I could refer to an outstanding instance that represents the transition.

An array of majestic elephants in their desolate wilderness habitat, forms the recurrent theme of his works during this period of transition. Juxtaposed with the elephants are the nude figures of women in frolic at times on under and around the elephants that form the central motif.

But today, it is a totally transformed S.H. Sarath, who arrives at his 50th year of professionalism.

Darts and barbs are still rampant in his latest works. But the predominant ‘feel’ that pervades his present art is one of creative lamentation about man’s fate in today’s world.

Artist S.H. Sarath’s extensive travels, have quite clearly enriched his vision and broadened his humane outlook.

At the 50th year of his professional life, Sella Hannadige Sarath – our S.H. Sarath – stands out as an unshaken champion of humanity.

His art emits loud and clear the need to be fully committed to end or at least, to mitigate human suffering.

May S.H. Sarath’s Art flourish, as an eloquent warrior, ready to safeguard men, against widespread cruelty and man’s unkindness to man.

‘S.H. Fifty’, is indeed a display that proclaims Art is still active in our little island, in spite of all attempts to thwart it.

Though this is the predominant mood, S.H. Sarath may still surprise his viewers.

You never know, whether in his coming creations, he would startle, amaze, amuse, intrigue, move, delight and even tickle you into a full-blooded guffaw.

Anything goes, with S.H. Sarath’s Art.