Kala Pola 2019: The magical day for artists and art lovers! | Sunday Observer

Kala Pola 2019: The magical day for artists and art lovers!

From left: Zamshaya Kaleel (artist), Arun Dias Bandaranaike, Dileep Muddadeniya, Michael Anthonisz, Nadija Tambiah and Sudath Abeysekera (artist)
From left: Zamshaya Kaleel (artist), Arun Dias Bandaranaike, Dileep Muddadeniya, Michael Anthonisz, Nadija Tambiah and Sudath Abeysekera (artist)

Drawing inspiration from similar open-air art fairs in Europe, notably Montmartre in the French capital Paris, Sri Lanka’s ‘Kala Pola’ has morphed into a rich cultural event over the years. This year we celebrate 26 years of Kala Pola, a much-awaited event in Colombo’s annual cultural calendar. Kala Pola 2019 will be held at Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, (Green Path) Colombo, on Sunday, February 24, from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m and will feature a kaleidoscope of creativity from across the nation.

The Pola (Fair) allows the work of artists to go on public view giving one the chance to select from a vast spread. The participating artists also get the opportunity to have a look at other artists’ work. To view a vast collection of artwork by an equally vast number of artisans in one day is what makes ‘Kala Pola’ magical – both for the artist and the art lover.

The John Keells Foundation and the George Keyt Foundation conducted a media conference and panel discussion to announce Kala Pola 2019 at Cinnamon Lakeside, Colombo, recently. Many artists who have been participating in the Kala Pola attended the discussion sharing their experiences. A Kala Pola artist for over 15 years, Sudath Abeysekara from Galle said, “Kala Pola is a major boost to Sri Lankan art. It has put Sri Lankan art on the world map. It has helped me sell my paintings and introduce myself to art lovers locally and internationally.”

“The role of art is not currently understood in the Sri Lankan context when compared internationally. There are many different art fairs held internationally, but in Sri Lanka, Kala Pola is a stepping stone to reach such heights in the arts industry. Tourists like to see authentic experiences in Sri Lanka and Kala Pola paves the way for it,” said Dileep Muddadeniya - Head of Brand Marketing – Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts and CEO- Cinnamon Life Mall.

Since its inception in 1993, Kala Pola - Sri Lanka’s largest open air art fair - has been enjoyed by a multitude of locals and expats including a coterie of VIPs, celebrities, art connoisseurs and students. Held in conjunction with The George Keyt Foundation, Kala Pola 2019 marks the 25th year of unbroken patronage for the event by the John Keells Group as its main CSR initiative.

“It is interesting and heartening to note that the number of people who have visited and bought art at Kala Pola throughout the years has increased rapidly. Last year, Kala Pola helped artists earn a sales income exceeding Rs.15 million, with a visitor count exceeding 28,000. This number is testament to the value generated by such an initiative,” Michael Anthonisz, Chairman, The George Keyt Foundation, said.

“Providing a bona fide platform for artists and sculptors to launch and cement their careers, Kala Pola has over the years offered an unparalleled opportunity for many an artist to gain substantial exposure at a national and international level, being a fillip to their economic status. John Keells is delighted to partner the George Keyt Foundation for the 25th year in holding this event. It would be great if the Sri Lankan Government too could join hands with us in future to make this event greater”, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at John Keells Holdings PLC, Nadija Tambiah said.

The Sri Lankan Art Gallery sponsored by the John Keells Foundation provides an opportunity for Sri Lankan artists to display their work free-of-charge throughout the year to a global clientele through accessing www.srilankaartgallery.com

Pic: Vipula Amarasinghe