Kingsley Gunatillake’s exhibition Finding Space opened on January 5 at Paradise Road Galleries where everything seems to inspire him.
“Even bitter, depressing experiences have given me strength and shown me direction”, admits Gunatillake.
“You can take ‘bitterness’ also as a taste and then you will understand that taste is a very complex thing. So I try to understand the complexity of small, mundane things through abstraction and in the abstract. The revelation of this journey of abstraction is that there is nothing called bitter experiences.”
Asked what was the strongest influence as an artist Gunatillake said: “Many things have affected me. I can’t specifically separate one and point out. Love, affection, sweet music, nature and wilderness, even window-shopping in the city, have inspired me. I think I have been affected and my art is shaped by associating and getting exposed to all kinds of other art forms.”
He is indifferent to local and international works of art. “I get inspiration from both international and local art,” says Gunatillake. For him, the dirty, erased and faded, dust-covered, discoloured remaining parts of local or traditional, old paintings and sculpture are a really new and fresh satisfaction. This explains the blurred, sort of hidden, difficult-to-name places in his paintings. “Master artist Dr. HA Karunaratne has really grasped this idea. In addition to him, the association of Jagath Weerasinghe, Chandraguptha Thenuwara and others have shaped the kind of art I do”, he said.
He is also inspired by children’s paintings, the wonderful unbiased feelings in them. The rules and thinking patterns in graphic art also helps him.
He admits the enjoyment of international art also awakens him. From painters like Willem de Kooning, Francis Bacon to Antoni Tàpies and Robert Motherwell as well as Anthony Caro have inspired and influenced his work. “Even performances such as ‘Dishwashers Are Crazy’ by STOMP have mesmerized me. In them I clearly see the connection between art and the thinking in it.”
His advice to aspiring artists of today is to identify what one doesn’t know. “By identifying what you are weak at, you learn how to do genuine expression through your ability. There is nothing called ugly for an artist, learn how to depict what others think as ugly. In art don’t seek the taste you see in experimentation. Enjoy the taste of art”, he says.