Coming to grips with ‘Segarism’
Two elephants in watercolour 18x12
painted in 1997
The detailed works in imagery contrasts the Segar forte which are
very central in his philosophical style. In a collection of his works
grouped together, the first impression given is that of a spiritually
induced artist. Vividly stamping his signature for his individual
identification, Segar has risen to heights of dominance in the art
world, creating a new school art.
His paintings need to be viewed in a manner to absorb the message
hidden in his brush strokes. There is poetry and fables for the viewer
to unravel and, he is no nature artist which makes it difficult to
attract attention. The greens of the burgeons and blues of the skies are
seldom found in his paintings, partly because his crowded figures tend
to hide them.
Segar, the name sounds romantic befitting the stature of a great
artist. For someone whose central aptitude for figures is a mixture of
aesthetic, cubicism, religious, contemporary and classicism has changed
the face of the 20th century paintings in Sri Lanka, remaining within
prolific post-impressionism but in no way influenced because he is the
master of his own art.
Sri Lanka is overflowing with talented painters from schools of art
but they all remain within their own perspectives and seldom swayed by
their influence so much so that their intensity is found in what they
paint. This is a good sign for the future of our art and the youngsters
who dream in becoming a Piccaso or for that matter, a Segar or a Senaka.
The present generation of great artists in Sri Lanka leaves the base for
continuation when it will not be long that greater names will emerge.
Forest elephants in mixed media 18x23 in 2008 by Segar.
When masters such as Senaka Senanayake paints his passion is so great
that it makes us proud that in the future, he will be named among
Piccaso, Monet, Degas, Pissarro and Renoir though they are from
different schools of art and I hope that some day Segar also will join
the procession. It is a long and patient waiting but once the break
comes, there will never be a shortage of Sri Lankan masters.
Segar is unique in judgement of his subjects and the colour
application is very bold, vivid and contrasting. He is unafraid of his
colour blending and they all are mind set and pre-conceived. He can be
accounted for a new and free impressionist school and are quite natural.
He leaves theory for other painters while he splashes in lively
sincere images which is one reason he has failed to cultivate nature
painting. His art is sensitive and intelligent and the viewer has to
have a contemporary pair of eyes to feast upon them with a psychological
subtlety. Not that everyone can do it and swept off their feet.
His illustrations took me to many exhibitions to understand and the
painter behind Segar because I am still a naturalist with an eye for
paintings which make me put him in line with Goya whose paintings I
detest. I do not wish to compare Segar with Goya; but I do find similar
artistic shades between them.
Segar is influenced by Indian mythology and history. His women for
most part are Indian but the unexpectedness of his designs can be
attributed to the study of instantaneous happenings of which he is keen
observer. To what extent he remains within his framework, no one can
His artistic doctrine is well preserved in memory the way ballet is
preserved in repertory. I do not think he has ever painted a
scientifically perfect picture or got close to doing so. If he has, I
have never come across such a painting.
The most potent force in the development of his art is the ability to
confine himself to his own identity that has already created a sort of
Sense of religion
From what school of art does he emerge? Your guess is as good as
mine. There is a sense of religion in what he paints. I have come across
Ganesha, Buddha and Christ done with reservation and honour. The ox is
his favourite animal which brings to surface the love he has for cattle
so synonmous to Hinduism.
Art, he believed is what the viewer sees and in difference to what
the critic sees and between the two, Segar triumphs.