The shy, yet on occasion startingly candid-Piyaratne Hewabatage early
manifested the qualities which were to mark him always: rare versatility
in both subject and technique rare clarity of his aims and immense
capacity for work and he is of a rare precocity. For instance, it was a
time of intense interest in posters, book illustrations and artistic
creations. And while a student he was designing posters, book covers,
and many visual displays of artistic values.
Born on June 24, 1942 at Aranayaka in the Kegalle District,
Hewabatage was succumbed to a dreadful disease polio, when he was only
four years old. After an unsuccessful battle by his parents to save
their son from this disease even to this day he walks about with a
single half crutch as a support.
He does not bear a momentary sick
feeling about his handicap. It has given him more courage and strength
to reach greater heights in his profession through grit determination.
His early education at Aranayake Maha Vidyalaya from a young age
encouraged by his teachers his brush and palette interested him to take
up a career in drawing and painting. With the wonders of beauty
Aranayaka was a natural canvas of fertile valley and surrounded by
smiling hills with stretches of luscious green paddy fields and the Maha
Oya flowing by near his home.
The splendour of village life and
surroundings and its scenic aura became a powerful and a lasting
influence and provided an artistic stimulus to his life. After
completing his secondary education in 1961 he joined Heywood College of
Fine Arts to study drawing and painting.
In 1967 he obtained the Diploma in Graphic Designing and joined Grant
Advertising to do part time work. In 1971 he moved over to the Tourist
Board as design editor. He has won several awards at international level
especially for the pictorial diary he designed for the Tourist Board
During this period he has also worked as a visiting lecturer
at the Department of Aesthetic studies, University of Kelaniya. Being an
extremely versatile artist he works in two distinct manners - solid
realism and a lighter decorative mode blending, abstract and figurative
elements. He is justly regarded as an original colourist and is often at
his best with the fluent handling of paint combined.
He has developed a highly personal style the most original and
technically accomplished. Apart from his numerous portraits which
display his gift for characterisation, he also paints subject pictures,
such as peasant scenes, historic scenes and literary stories. His
exhibitions retained a wide variety of designs - including birds,
insects, wild life, village scenes and monochrome sketches done with pen
His pictures were characteristically in black and white and
created drama by the systematic variation of elementary shapes
vertically and horizontally across the picture, or radially from a
The subjects that he selected for his paintings were the realistic
scenes of everyday life, Buddhist monks, religious places of worship,
waterfalls, animals, tavern scenes, fishing boats, and the seaside.
Their colour is low-keyed the designs meticulous in balance, and their
influence may be seen in his recent exhibition. His enormous output has
to be carefully sifted to gauge his achivements in commercial work and
His close relation with state-heads, and religious dignitaries
has won accolades of creative achievements to his credentials.
His work includes his contribution to the Singapore Buddhist
Meditation Centre, mega projects like the Mahaweli Development Scheme,
Gam Udawa, S.A.F. Games 2006, Deyata Kirula and SAARC Conference 2008.
In recognition of his work he has been presented with many awards,
from Ceylon Tourist Board, Ministry of Environment, Singapore, Mona
Bismarck Foundation, Paris and the Presidential Award for the best book
He was assigned as official designer as well as the publisher for
the 10th South Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF)
General Assembly by the National Olympic Committee (NOC). This
multi-talented and courageous artist is a and genius.