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Semage elevates history into art


Kalasuri Jayasiri Semage

Little Jayasiri is at school. The teacher asks him to write the first Sinhala letter in the - alphabet. Promptly the little fellow draws an elephant. The teacher is stunned. From then on artist Jayasiri Semage has been overwhelming the world, with his strange brush and palette.

An artist, who recreates history with brush and palette, is indeed a rare phenomemon. For this specific creative personality, initiating rare efforts is very much a routine matter.

Over the years, he has displayed a talent for uniqueness of expression. Once in Oman, he prepared the essentials for an exhibition of his art. Though the display was on invitation, at the sight of some of his paintings, the organisers could not help but find themselves in a state of shock. On ethical grounds, they vehemently objected to the display of some of the nudes he had painted. Unfazed by this taboo, artist Jayasiri Semage, robbed his ladies in diaphanous attire, and overcame the crisis.

The art work was accepted, and the bare torsos of the women in the paintings could appear before the spectators without disturbing codes of ethics. The aesthetic portrayal of the beauty of the female figures is a marked staple in his art. That explains why he overcame the strong objections of the organisers in Oman and made his comely maidens show themselves to those orthodox viewers, clad in gossamer attire. The exhibition proved an impressive success.

Obstacles

Artist Kalasuri Dr. Jayasiri Semage, has forged ahead overcoming all obstacles that appeared in his path towards higher reaches of achievement. He has always been ahead of the others, in the pursuit of artistic goals.

In his latest collection of exquisite creations, he has blazed a trail that most artists have not been able to tread. This pioneer artist is now ready to provide a pleasant surprise to lovers of art both here and abroad with his latest collection of creative gems.

In the present collection, he has assiduously converted the studio into a renowned gallery of Sri Lankan history, delving into the prestigious, uninterrupted chronicle of our island's history - The Mahawansa and Culawansa (Major Dynasty and Minor Dynasty). Artist Jayasiri Semage has extracted 50 dramatic episodes from our picturesque past and has transformed them into a fascinating series of impactful artistic creations. His focus on the past and his inclination to select themes from those historical eras, indeed, intrigued me considerably.

Formulating all my hesitations into a pointed question, I asked him: "In the modern world we inhabit, we come upon, myriads of subject-matter that are unquestionably fit to be the themes of exquisite works of art. In such a context, what has made you explore the past and derive themes from those by-gone days?"

Response

Artist Semage's response to my query was disarmingly simple. These were his words: "Most artistic reactions are aesthetic. I thought that if we turned to history we will be both aesthetic and functional. When we depict a historical era the men, women, palaces and gardens are breathtakingly beautiful.

Princess Viharamaha Devi sacrifies herself to save the land and the people from the fury of the turbulent ocean.

Along with that aesthetic pleasure these outstanding historical events and episodes make the viewers - specially the younger generation including school children - take a pride in our historical and cultural heritage. The viewers of these historical paintings come to know vividly how the past has contributed vastly to create our nationhood. We acquire awe and feel a profound sense of gratitude towards those who built our destiny".

This way artist Jayasiri Semage's current display provides the viewers an entry into those past heroic and epic eras.

When you view artist Semage's history on canvas, the past begins to come alive. Those ages when such rulers as Gamini held sway become breathing-palpitating realities. Through the skill of his imagination and art artist Semage makes us meet Queen Viharamaha Devi and King Kavantissa; latter being the peace-loving ruler who attempted to discourage his brave son - Prince Gamini - from waging war to win freedom.

Outstanding artist Jayasiri Semage takes you on a conducted tour to peaceful and tranquil eras as well. You experience a religious joy, when you witness Arahant Mahinda and his subordinates and disciplined companions appearing serenely before you.

To my mind, this historic gallery created by artist Semage's versatile brush is very much timely. Those who derive an aesthetic pleasure through these works simultaneously imbibe an elevating sense of patriotism.

To me the most outstanding aspect of this "Historical Gallery" is that it never generates anti-human sentiments. It does not even vestigially provoke a viewer to anger, hatred, indignation or envy. On the other hand the collection of paintings as a whole breeds love, harmony and aspiration towards higher human values.

The creative techniques employed by this art guru enables the aspiring artists to enter into a "living school of Art".

The latest collection by Kalasuri Dr. Jayasiri Semage is a vivid, living, and eloquent sermon, inculcating a sense of humanity in all the ardent viewers. The spectator gets back with a creative fervour enlivening his total being. Through his latest works, artist Jayasiri Semage, reawakens history and relives it. As a spectator you too will participate in this ethereal joy.

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