Semage elevates history into art
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.
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
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?"
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
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
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
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
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.