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Sunday, 2 February 2014

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Popular cartoonist and caricaturist JKG Punchihewa, a regular exhibitor at Kalapola.

Kala Pola:

A rich palette of vibrant colours

Sunday January 26 dawned with the promise that the 21st edition of Kala Pola, presented by John Keells and the George Keyt Foundation, would lure, entice and enthrall both exhibitors and visitors alike.

And that's precisely what it did, as it has done for the past 21 years, this time a 14 hour marathon from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Kala Pola 2014 was a magnificent sensory experience as the Nelum Pokuna Mawatha burst into colour with canvasses of different shapes and sizes adorning the numerous stalls. Unlike in previous years, the stalls were closely positioned this year, thereby giving a feeling of intimacy as thousands of visitors walked along the makeshift 'Kala Pola Street' (as some preferred to call it).

They came from different parts of Sri Lanka. They came early in the morning carting their canvasses in three wheelers, little lorries and on the pillions of motorcycles to set up before the hordes of visitors descended on them.

And through day and night, money exchanged hands as did the canvasses. Some of them will adorn residences and offices on home ground, while lots of others will be transported miles across the seas, to bring colour to domestic and corporate spaces in different foreign lands.

The chief guest at the official ceremony in the evening was Jong-moon Choi, the South Korean Ambassador to Sri Lanka. He let the audience into a secret in that he was there during the morning, almost incognito, savouring the ambience of this annual art fest.

In as much as adult painters held sway, children were also given pride of place. There was a children's Art Corner at which nearly 100 children put colour to canvas and papers as they journeyed through the realm of art.

Adorning Kala Pola was also the work of the differently-abled children from the 'Ape Patawunta Piyawarak' preschool in Hambantota. The standard of their work was easily on par with their counterparts in mainstream society and came in for great praise.

Walking past stall 37 was a sight to behold as Anura Srinath's (2012) almost life-sized canvas of a railway line embracing a sharp cliff made you stop dead in your tracks in an unexpected experience.

And then as the evening light began fading, and the day gently gave way to dusk, the fairy lights came on, giving Kala Pola a magical aura with Thriloka and Ravibandhu Vidyapathi's drummers entertaining the visitors.

Now 21 years old, Kala Pola has come of age and enjoys iconic status as one of Sri Lanka's premier art events. A local attraction which draws crowds of Sri Lankans, it is also widely patronised as a tourist attraction. Most importantly it provides a wonderful opportunity to local artists and sculptors to exhibit their work, to get vital exposure and thereby launch their careers locally and internationally.

Kala Pola was indeed a rich palette of colour, vibrantly splashed on the street.

- Prince

 

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