‘Beyond the Water Margin’ exhibition is held with the participation of four artists, representing four eras in Sri Lankan watercolour art; Gunasiri Kolambage, Basil Cooray, Sanjeewee Senevirathna and Nilusha Weerakkody. The four professional artists are exhibiting 80 paintings in four different styles under four themes. The exhibition is inaugurating on August 18 at 6.00 p.m at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery and is opened to public on August 19, 20 and 21.
In a joint statement released by the four artists featured in the exhibition it was said, “Art pieces are created by the intellect, imagination, experiments, professional experience and consciousness, of artists who indulge in creative work for their own independent and honest goals solely and collectively. It is not an unconcious copying by pouring some matter into a block. It is a broad, complicated and sensitive process. And it is not an artificial product. We believe that the ‘art’ is a social process of digesting, of touching upon existing social and cultural mechanisms in a most authentic way by a community with a broad appreciation.”
‘Beyond the Water Margin’ is a creative effort of a four water colour artists who united for the necessity of a collective creative approach, united by professionalism and self-satisfaction, mutual understanding and the unity of diversity. It stands as a visual communication of self-expression as well.
Gunasiri Kolambage is the most active first generation Sri Lankan watercolour artist, one amongst few who are alive today. He was attracted to watercolour, from his days at the Government collage of Arts. His water colour usage is a combination of European and Indian traditions.
Kolambage’s most mature artistic work was influenced by Stanley Abeysinghe, H.B. Perera, G.S Fernando and Susil Premaratna, the fraternity of Sri Lankan watercolour tradition. Through local and international experience of visual art his style climaxed towards abstraction. In fact, he was the pioneer in Sri Lankan water colour art of abstraction. Buddhist philosophy and disciplined lifestyle inspired him. Some motifs of traditional Sri Lankan arts are also used in his work.
With an academic background in fashion designing and information technology, local identity or cultural adherence was never an issue for Nilusha in finding the subject in his art. He considers only the expression in his artwork.
Nilusha’s artwork expresses a gleaming dramatic wonder consisting reflective lighting, in relation to environmental, material and human activities. Dew drops, glass surfaces, visual motion of glazed metal, upside down reflections drawn on rain drenched earth and lights of moving vehicles at night against street lights are subjects of his artwork. The water colour fantasies by Nilusha represents worldly pleasures through a sensuous and warm colour scheme, which can be grasped with an open mind.
Following his visual accuracy at a professional level, Basil created his own independant and unique style emerging from the second era of the watercolour trend. His own style is evident in his earliest exhibitions. His modern viewpoint of art is thoroughly focused on humanity and the lifestyle of simple folk and the sensitive moments of rural life. Sometimes, he merges the human figures with landscapes making powerful expressions in white space.
In building the human figure, a touch of cubism is visible while the most powerful expression is the fine colour combination of warm and cool tones. Elongated human figures are capable of taking the aesthete to another spiritual realm. The tones laid on wet brush strokes freely merge with the subject, without disturbing the unity of artwork. Therefore, Basil’s art gives prominence to sentimental value over symbolic value.
Sanjeewee, the artist, was born in an era of two Sri Lankan watercolour trends. His early style brings together the second and fourth watercolour eras. Sanjeewee’s watercolour style was influenced by modern watercolour trends in European and Asian regions. His style underwent fast modernization in recent years to achieve unique artistic maturity.
As a result, he was able to win a number of international and contemporary watercolour contests, demonstrating the Sri Lankan identity at international level. A modern Sri Lankan watercolour trend was initiated by Sanjeewee’s art in the decade of 2010.
Urban and suburban areas and human’s cultural spaces centred on various professions were the basis of his artwork. His artwork has been nurtured with mature academic discipline and obstinate usage of medium. A rich combination of tones are finely used to express art. A tactful art enthusiast will be able to grasp the underline, penetrating through the societal space.