Grasping the darkness to reach his vision | Sunday Observer
Raja Segar

Grasping the darkness to reach his vision

21 November, 2021
Raja Segar
Raja Segar

Internationally celebrated Sri Lankan painter Raja Segar is a self-taught artist. The themes of his works encompass diverse subjects ranging from nature and wildlife to Sri Lankan cultural life to religious and spiritual iconography and imagery to erotica of a more modern form.

He builds the textures of his works through assemblies of geometrical figurations and juxtaposition of colours which bring out the veins and the veneer of his style. His works seem to suggest that art is, at its most fundamental being, colour and form unwittingly declaring its interdependence to simply exist, out of which the perceiver, discovers ‘meaning’.

Philosophical tone

In his latest publication titled ‘Dialogue with Darkness’, Segar provides his autobiography together with a visual narrative of his work. In defining the crux of what is meant by the title, Segar provides the reader the following explication: “In light you see what is there. In darkness you see only what you wanted to see.” The words echo a deep and philosophical tone to gauge the realm of the artist’s mind. In the darkness, he uncovers his imagination, and gives form to ‘new light’, a light that comes to life in the form of his art.

Segar told me, when I met him at his cosy art shop named ‘Donovan’s’, on the fifth level of the One Galle Face Mall, that one of the great impetuses for him to pursue his passion as a fulltime artist was the internationally renowned Sri Lankan artist Senaka Senanayake. “It was Senaka who inspired me and supported me. Thanks to him I became a fulltime artist.” He said very candidly with an unmistakeable expression of gratitude towards his initial benefactor and fellow artist. Segar’s journey has been one of exposure at many levels. His works which have been showcased internationally since 1988 include exhibitions in England, Australia, India, Canada, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and Korea.


At ‘Donovan’s’, one comes across a remarkable assortment of fine art ranging from original paintings created with oil or acrylic on canvas or board, to prints, to collages, to miniature quasi installation type pieces.

Segar’s constant application to his art as a committed artist has seen a sense of innovation as to how his art can be disseminated in today’s world. A glance around his shop shows how his art has found different forms in today’s commercial world of manifold opportunities. Greeting cards that feature his art work, as well as calendars and diaries that are embellished with images of his paintings are to be found at ‘Donovan’s’.

His book reveals much about the journey he has come in life. His humble beginnings and the challenges he overcame to reach the positions he has now achieved for himself narrate how in the darkness of the world he found his voice and his vision as an artist. For Segar, in whom the commitment to prevail as an artist lives steadfastly, his vision keeps constantly expanding.