The team behind the exhibition
The team behind the exhibition

REVIEW BY: Nandasiri Jasentuliyana, Former Deputy Director General of the United Nations

The America-Sri Lanka Photographic Art Society, an affiliate of the Photographic Society of America (PSA), in association with the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Los Angeles, held a photographic exhibition in Los Angeles titled, ‘The Beauty of Sri Lanka’, at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), attended by a large crowd.

The exhibition was designed to depict the beauty of the rich fauna and flora of Sri Lanka, and the serenity of jungle life highlighted by National Parks, home for more than 400 species of birds, leopards, elephants, deer, and prolific marine life such as whales, turtles and colourful coral reefs. The ancient cities of Sri Lanka with architectural gems that are part of the 2500-year-old cultural and religious heritage of the nation that blend with the tropical fauna and flora of the Island nation were also an integral part.

‘Beauty of Sri Lanka’ is a collection of nearly 100 photographs ranging from the grandeur of archaeological ruins to elephants marching in perfect symmetry across national parks watched by majestic leopards lounging on tree tops.

When confronted with the most iconic shots, photographers spend hours and even days waiting in a field for the perfect moment. You begin to value what the photographer had to endure to wait for the moment when the leopard will peep for a fleeting moment from the cave where he spent the night. One of the exhibitors, Rohitha, spent an entire night watching a leopard at the Yala National Park, to capture that amazing moment as explained by Suriya Jayalath Perera, President of the ASPS who organized the event. Suriya Perera, an award-winning Nature Photographer had on display several amazing photographs captured through his expert lens under similar circumstances.

The majesty of the rich historical culture of the country etched in the ruins of ancient cities surrounded by the magnificent fauna and flora was masterfully portrayed in the work of the artists. The exquisite photos of the ‘lovers of Isurumuniya’ or the ‘Sandakadapahana’ captured by Yamuni Perera spoke volumes of the skill of the ancient artists. The face of a ‘Veddha’ Chieftain captured by her related the entire lifestyle of the Neolithic man from whom he descended and is now assimilated to the rest of the modern nation of Sri Lankans that claim the same ancestry.

Rohitha Gunawardane, Official Photographer, Department of Wildlife Conservation in Sri Lanka, and Yamuni Rashmika Perera, Photojournalist, Department of Government Information, Sri Lanka, are among the six award winning photographers whose photography were displayed at the exhibition. Dr.Vickum Senanayake, K.G. Keerthirathna, Ranjini Perera and Kumara Karunarathne who made the exhibit special are members of the National Photographic Art Society of Sri Lanka (NPAS) and award winners from the British and French Academy of Photographers and were in Los Angeles courtesy, the American Embassy in Colombo. They were joined by four outstanding Sri Lankan photographers from Los Angeles, Andy Samarasena, Sumedha Jayasena, Moran Perera, and Suriya Perera.

Each photo has its own unique story. Viewed together, the images reveal a natural world that’s both beautiful and at risk from human actions.

Agatha Anna Bunanta, Vice President International Affairs, Photographic Society of America (PSA), complemented the organizers for their efforts in staging an admirable exhibit. The exhibit seems to have gone beyond the visual to create an interest in experiencing first-hand the island that was seen as an enchanting place to visit. It justified the primary aim of the exhibit to promote tourism.

The exhibition was ceremoniously opened on September 21 by Swarna Gunaratna, Consul General of Sri Lanka in Los Angeles and Dr. Walter Jayasinghe, Founder President of the Sri Lanka Foundation U.S.A.

The organizers have already commenced organizing next year’s edition of the ‘Beauty of Sri Lanka Exhibit’ which they plan to hold on a grander scale.