Basil Cooray transfers dreams on to canvas
Artists, it is often said live in a world of their own transferring
dreams on to canvas. But those seeking realism in theirs get closer not
only to their subjects but also to connoisseurs and admirers alike.
There exists artists of different kinds who are not versatile and
whose work changes very little. Among the painters who are the subjects
of these changes are those who are versatile and modest. Such an artist
is Basil Cooray.
Born in Uswatakeiyawa and educated at Uswatakeiyawa Maha Vidyalaya
and Gonzalez College, Pamunugama, Basil is a self-made artist. He had
received guidance under well-known artists such as Douglas Paul, Dominic
Cyril and Stanley Abesinghe. From time to time Basil painted landscapes
with frank and tasteful felicity with the medium of water-colours and
oil to represent Sri Lanka's rural life.
Beautiful as many of his pictures are in which so much of the subject
is described by a few delicate, precise lines, some of them enclosing
sober monochrome washes, others simply areas of virgin paper or canvas.
The splendour of the smiling hills with streches of luscious green paddy
fields, the haunting natural beauty of the village became a powerful and
lasting influence to provide artistic stimulus to his life. He had a
individual style of painting landscapes.
One of his paintings
He continues to be inspired by the various cultures that he
encounters resulting in the creation of quite a few masterpieces. THe
older he grew the more skilful he became not only in the mixture of his
colours but also in the texture of his design.
The intensive search and experiments from time to time has resulted
in a succession of landscapes done by the use of his finger (not by
brush). The occasional flick with the finger in a damp wash can be quite
effective for sunlit grass or branches or thatched hut.
Basil has exhibited his works at the National Art Gallery, Colombo,
the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery and at the Hermitage Gallery. He has also
participated in several group exhibitions: Young Contemporaries (1997,
1998, 1999), Moods and Modes, Nawa Kalakaruwo (2001 and 2002) and Images
of Peaceful Life (2002). He has also participated in the International
Artist Camp 2002 and 2004 conducted by the George Keyt Foundation.
Basil's paintings adorn reputed institutions such as the President's
House, the Hatton National Bank, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the
Embassy of Sri Lanka in South Africa.
Down to earth, simple and sensitive will be an appropriate
description of his personality and character. His art never suffered
from the sunset of an outlived inspiration. On the contrary like good
wine, it has improved with age.