Minimalist monochrome artist
"The more minimal the art, the more maximum, the explanation."
When wisdom accumulates, its expression becomes slim. Proliferating
insights speak pithily. Profound, mature experiences emerge in simple,
chaste and austere idioms.
Terse, aphoristic formulae, would very well reflect a rich, ornate
and baroque inner being.
Similarly a linear minimalism, will, on many an occasion, stunningly
represent a soul, replete with currents and cross-currents of complex
In recent years, Chandana Ranaweera, an unassuming villager from
remote Alawwa, taking shelter within a pronounced cocoon of an
ultra-self-conscious personality has been assiduously producing a series
of monochrome sketches, that has now evolved into a vividly significant
oeuvre, that no lover of art can afford to disregard any more.
The simplicity of his linear depictions, is beguilingly deceptive. It
is quite possible for a viewer to fall into the trap of assuming, that
these lines begin to occur with an effortless ease.
But the stark reality will eventually dawn on him, if he could find
the patience to scrutinise one of these sketches, in something of a
I suggest you focus your sustained attention on the sketch titled
"Flautists". At first sight you may miss its taut concentration. But,
when you continue to be immersed in it, the sketch begins to overwhelm
You see the unison with which the two players, put their souls
together to work out the rhythm of their instruments.
Their cheeks are puffed as they breathe the tune into the flutes. The
eyes are sharp and keen while they are fully bent on the note they
produce together. The fingers flutter on the stops of the flute enabling
them to trace the varying levels of the music.
The waist-bands gleam - still continuing the uniformity. The sketch
is so tantalisingly alive, that if you listened carefully, you feel that
you may even hear the lilting music of their flutes.
With an admirable discipline, the artist inserts the authenticating
detail tellingly, to capture the reality of his theme, in his
Wit and whimsicality are among the inescapable effects, that his
sketches exude. If you look at the "Flautists", you cannot help but see
a good reason for amusement, in their earnestness and their unswerving
When the sketch-artist abstracts a character, from out of the general
parade of humanity, the character seen isolated from the large context
of life, tends to communicate an intriguing whimsicality.
Artist Chandana Ranaweera has a built-in capacity to discern the
irony, wit, whimsicality and even the down-right humour, implicit in
some of the themes he selects for his minimalist, monochrome sketches.
Artist Chandana Ranaweera, has returned to the theme of "God", in
several of his minimalist sketches. In one, the God is bewildered by the
offerings made by his devotees, in their fervour. The smoke from the
lamps lit for him, fill his restricted space with smoke.
Floral offerings thwart him. The sacred weapons he should have in his
hands, are now aimed directly at him. In mother sketch, a god is shown
ready with his sacred weapon in hand. He expects his worshippers. But,
though he awaits anxiously they do not seem to be coming.
In a third instance too, the artist revisits the god theme. There
too, the god communicates the nation, that he is awaiting his devotees.
In this ironical "deity" series of sketches, artist Chandana
Ranaweera, makes a comment on the eroding sense of religions fervour,
leading to the anxiety of gods, test their congregation be depleted.
Chandana's minimal art, needs to be delved into seriously. The
simplicity of the end-proodnet, is ensured by several significant
The artist, selects his theme, and peels off layer after layer of
elaborate details. Through this process he pares down his creative
concept to its barest minimum lines. He presents the end result,
leavened with the eccentric linear arrangements peculiar to him.
His linear designs contribute a compelling liveliness to his
minimalist vision. In his sketch titled "Moon Rising", he enlivens the
portrayal with his whimsical fansy, that the moon takes wash in the
ocean, before it rises above the hrizon, to illuminate the world.
The minimalist of this sensitive sketch-maker, who imparts a telling
"colour" to his strange monochrome creations, has not yet been received
into the main-stream of art in Sri Lanka, in our day. His minimalist art
is poetry and fantasy synthesised into monochrome dreams. Artist
Chandana Ranaweera's minimalist monochrome vision, could substantially,
illuminate the landscape of contemporary Sri Lanka art, if he could be
allowed a worth while entry into the domain of today's Sri Lankan art,
which does not seem to be still prepared, , to let his minimalist
wonders a foot-hold within it.