In 2005, artist Senaka Senanayake visited a Sri Lankan rainforest with his cousin. He was mesmerised by the beauty of the natural phenomena, the vivid hues that he chanced upon and the tranquility that he experienced. That led him on a quest to paint such forests and their exotic inhabitants, such as macaws, butterflies and fishes in a riot of colours.
While his family was involved in politics, Senanayake chose to pursue art over the last five decades. He was a self-taught artist but later went on to study at Yale University, USA where he read a Degree in Art and Architecture.
His latest collection of artworks is titled In an Iridescent Land and is currently on display in the city. What stands out are the sheer vibrancy of the life-like flora and fauna he paints. While they seem to have a touch of magic bestowed by a healthy imagination, Senanayake disputes it by saying he only depicts what has himself observed in nature.
Speaking about his artworks, the 62 year old artist says, "Nature inspires my art, especially it's beauty. Oils, mixed media and water colours and occasional sculpture dominate my repertoire. The message behind my art is of the constant depletion of the rainforest in Sri Lanka and the inadequacy of the public to react to it. This has inspired my works over the last decade. The idea is to paint rainforests highlighting its beauty and serenity. Everything I paint exists in nature nothing is imaginary."
His earlier works depicted the life in Sri Lanka, focused on Buddhist-inspired paintings and art works based on his travels abroad and were influenced by Western Modernism.
Over the years, he has exhibited in 18 countries spanning five continents. His works find pride of place at the White House, the UN building in New York, museums, private collections and corporate headquarters around the world.
Quiz him on the art scenario in his home country and he says, "At the moment, it is fairly limited after the Civil War. Most of the artists, especially the older ones, migrated. The younger ones continue to struggle but there is hope for the future."
Hope is also one of the reasons why he chooses to highlight the brighter shades of nature. "I want to show the positive aspect of life and I believe bright colours are happy colours," he concludes.
Till November 10, 11 am to 7 pm
At Tao Art Gallery, Dr AB Road, Worli.
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