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Gunasiri Kolambage:

Local artist of international fame

In the art of painting we do nothing more than the creation of forms and their interrelationship and colouring so as to give the greatest pleasure. As many critics believe it there would be no difficulty in finding a common measure or a formal yard stick to discover and compare the elements of 'formal beauty' whether in a Rembrandt or a Mondrian.


Gunasiri Kolambage

The formal divining rod, whether the subject of a critic's attention happens to be figurative or abstract, is a thoroughly useful implement. About this there can be no doubt. Yet, somehow, even in the most experienced hands, it fails to do more than serve as a very approximate common measure for representational and abstract work of art.

Some of his paintings

According to some, he is a great artist; according to others he was of little significance; but upon one point all seemed to agree, that he is the most convinced and consistent exponent of abstract painting in Sri Lanka. Such a painter is Gunasiri Kolambage. He hails from Bandaragama.

The splendour of this old romantic village, and its rich earth, warm sunshine, and its Buddhist aura became a powerful and a lasting influence to provide an artistic stimulus to Gunasiri's life. He was born on November 1, 1938. Since he had an aptitude for art from his early childhood, he was able to show his talents to his father who was attracted by his sons's drawings on the walls and on the floor done with chalk.

The observant father helped him tremendously to promote his artistic potential. As a child he was deeply moved by traditional Buddhist temple paintings in his village. After school he spent most of his time in the temple watching temple artists turning out brightly painted interiors.

Here he met a young artist bhikkhu who gave him his first art lessons. Later he joined the Government College of Fine Arts which was also known as Heywood School of Art, where he studied art under the reputed gurus of the day such as Stanley Abeysinghe and H.B. Perera.

After completing his art education at the Government College of Fine Arts he has worked in many reputed advertising firms in Colombo, as art director and creative director.

Kolambage's talent as a painter was recognised by his appointment as one of the art directors at the Concept Communications Brisbane Australia in 1988.

He won the Finalist Award from the International Artist Magazine published in Australia in 2009. His paintings adorned the walls of leading institutions and formed part of several important private and national collections in many parts of the world, including a large painting at the Queen Elizabeth Foundation - Surrey. U.K.

His work had the air of a whim or fancy, and all sorts of themes that stimulated his imagination. Spectacular fantastic effects were part of the feeling of freedom he enjoyed in his work. The paint is handled with absolute mastery, brushed patiently on to the surface and leaving the portrait tingling with intensity and with palpitating surface texture.

Kolambage had the outstanding degree of craftsmanship with which to achieve all this. His enormous output at the easel and his brilliant work as a muralist was exhibited at his recent exhibition entitled 'Buddharaja' at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery, Colombo.

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