Kolombage's fresh look
“Art is not a handicraft; it is the transmission of feeling the artist
Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
When the world decided to celebrate the 2600th anniversary of the
Supreme Enlightenment of ascetic Siddhartha in 2011, artist Gunasiri
Kolambage, contemplated an entirely new approach to pay his tribute to
With honour, adoration and the most profound devotion, he conducted
the Buddha to his studio. He painted a series of Buddha portraits,
preserving the sacred and the holy associations of the presence of Samma
Artist Kolombage's creativity enabled him, on that occasion to
present to the discerning world of art-lovers, a gallery of portraits of
the greatest man who ever lived.
I vividly remember how a foreign woman inquired, whether Kolombage
had the Buddha sit for these portraits. That done, where could a mature
artist proceed from there? After such an unassailable peak, anything
else would be anti-climactic. Unfazed, artist Gunasiri Kolambage set to
work-armed with brush, palette and canvas.
But, where is the theme?
How about the subject matter?
Inside or outside?
Hesitations were endless. He confronted himself and looked within.
What had he done during a lifetime of painting. His soul answered:
“Gunasiri, you have been looking for life. Where is it? Can you give it
shape and form?
True to his conscience, he turned inwards. He explored motifs that
could represent life.Finally, he made up his mind. For an artist, the
symbols of creativity and life are the patterns, designs, shapes, forms
and colours. They are the elements that infuse life to art.Given this
land of background he settled down to create “Life's motifs”. The
central motifs are arabesques, linear shapes and varying shapes of
Using his creative imagination to the utmost, he makes the patterns
of curved lines to articulate a variety of concepts. Such an array of
paintings, invariably poses a challenge to the spectator. The viewer has
to a wrest out a meaning for himself.
The spectator is invited not merely to look but also to read.
When one looks back upon the event-filled past of this artist, one
cannot help but wonder, whether there is any other reputation to match
his.From 1959 on, he has been producing works that earned encomiums.
During his long career, he has been in a whole range of professions
He entered the field of advertising as an art director. He travelled
abroad, both as an advertising professional and as an artist. His range
of art is expensive. He indulged in studied pottery. He experimented
with synthesising techniques. His art is exhibited at venues outside Sri
Lanka too. But, the surprises are not over.
Simultaneously with the launch of his exhibition of paintings “Life's
Motifs”, his latest coffee table book Devil's Palette will also be
placed in the public domain. Gunasiri Kolombage, is an ever-renewing
source of creative energy. After the current exhibition of art, he may
move of to an arca, that will perhaps surprise us all. A special
reference has to be made to the contemporary Arts and Crafts Association
of Sri Lanka, the patron. The Association's chairman ubiquitous Harold
Pieris is an ultra active supporter of art and artists. The twin event,
art-launch and book launch is a tribute to chairman Harold Pieris too.
And that tribute is well-earned as he was constantly with the artist, at
every turn.As for artist Gunasiri Kolombage, he will continue his
explorations seeking motifs, other themes and techniques.