If you believe that art cannot be mastered without launching into a proper academic study, think twice. Malintha Prasad Wijayasiriwardena is an aspiring self- taught artist who seems to exhibit inborn talents.
Wijayasiriwardena can give life to whatever takes his fancy through charcoal and oil paint. He uses live models as muse for his paintings. In fact most of his paintings are figurative portraits of women.
“Everyone paints sceneries. So, I wanted to master something different,” says Wijayasiriwardena. Painting while looking at a photo is common, he opines. “Using live models for painting is a method used even by professional foreign artists,” he says, explaining the reasons for doing figurative portraits of women using live models. “I want to be a unique painter people can identify through my paintings,” adds Wijayasiriwardena.
Wijayasiriwardena completed his education at DS Senanayake College in the Mathematics stream. He then joined the Institute of Engineering Technology (IET) at Katunayake to follow Mechanical Engineering. But he abandoned his higher education due to his deep desire to engage in religious activities and of course, art.
“I found engineering to be very hectic,” explains Wijayasiriwardena. Being drawn to religious activities Wijayasiriwardena wanted to get away from people and be left alone. “And art proved to be a perfect getaway and also a platform to exhibit his artistic prowess,” Wijayasiriwardena explained.
He says that painting is a form of meditation that involves intense concentration. “While painting I can be myself,” he adds. It has been a year since he started painting and it has been a learning curve. Some works take up to two months to complete as he also experiments throughout the process.
“I have built a good audience since I started painting. It is always better to stick to the same audience throughout rather than trying to expand,” he opines.
He says that the biggest challenge he faced was the family’s disapproval of him switching his field. Yet, he wanted to proceed with what relaxed him.
Wijayasiriwardena pointed out that a major problem Sri Lankan artists face is the scarcity of art curators to give exposure to their works of art.
“Many don’t like to price a work of art because people don’t know how to appreciate its uniqueness. When a work of art is completed it’s one of a kind and the artist has the complete ownership over it,” says Wijayasiriwardena, reiterating the importance of appreciating art work.
You can experience firsthand Wijayasiriwardena’s works of inborn art at JDA Perera Gallery, Colombo 07 on July 29 and 30. This art exhibition organized by ‘Siththarunge Paradisaya’, a Facebook group of aspiring artists is the first platform where Wijayasiriwardena will display his talents.