Sumali Piyatissa, the artist.
Genese, innovative and spiritually inspired
Exhibited at the Lionel Wendt over the last weekend, Genese may mean
‘beginning’ in French but spelt Genesis has more spiritual weight as it
is the first book in the Old Testament in the Holy Bible with the same
meaning. I took the liberty to mention so as the artist says she is
spiritually inspired. A blessing for her. Revelation is the last book in
the New Testament meaning end.
I had never seen Sumali Piyatissa's paintings before and when I did
see them for the first time what struck me most was her excellent mix of
colour sinking, blending and swirling one to another like the glow of a
setting sun, spreading the vast expanse across the sky.
They sat gently upon her canvas in such a smoothing tone that can be
painted only by an strict with a relaxed and sensitive mind.
This tells the attitude of Sumali let alone her brushwork and the
conceptions stored in her thinking. Art comes naturally to her, no
doubt. I admit I am no pushover when it comes to painting nor do I
overhaul an artist but select the ones that in my opinion are worthy of
She is an artist who has consciously rejected images in her art but
retains many expressions only to express the multitude of visions she
comes across daily, Sumali adds freshness of youth that comes naturally
to her beautiful self as she is attractive in her own way.
It is difficult to imagine an artist who could leap from
semi-abstracts to natural painting and she has overcome this hurdle.
Representing the natural world around her vividly and with vivacity, her
strength lies in the palette upon which she mixes colour schemes
‘I rise with the sun, Sleep thro’ dreams And seek thee
From a distance’ (GH)
From burning colour sensation to soft subtle swirls, she paints
vigorously with clear line, image and colour. I felt she had a strong
wrist because there are no break-up lines visible or she is clever
enough to cover them up.
Lighting plays an important aspect in Sumali's paintings and some
give a 3-D effect. They can be looked upon for a long time to be
impacted. The ones with spiritual effect are varied and effective.
I liked her painting of a dark irregular-like cross set before an
orange effect, like opening out to the world from heaven to absorb the
crucifixion. She will not have difficulty in selling this one.
In a country such as Sri Lanka where the people are very artistic, it
is sad that we do not have categorised art from the West where they are
divided into impressions, improvisations and compositions.
The impressionists and Romantics stand tall while the Baroque and
Classicism period have produced some of the masterpieces. It is a long
way for us to reach such heights not because we do not have the talent
or professionals but for the simple reason of the system.
Our country is not geared enough to push our artists into the
international level or fora and display Lankan talent whereas India has
two painters hanging their work at Christie's.
From what I have seen even an artist such as Sumali Piyatissa can
rise to the occasion. What she needs is international exposure at the
right place with the right administrators at the helm with dedication.
The only artist known abroad in art circles is Senaka Senanayake.
I dream my painting, and I paint my dream’ (van Gogh)
Sumali has adopted the sinuous, decorative lines that flatten
simplified forms of art that critics can see and she has managed to
compose broad areas of colour, from her brilliant luminous palette.
She is aware that every colour has its own characteristics both
physical and spiritual to recede or advance, grow or diminish in colour.
They can be soft or hard, smooth or rough and heavenly profound and she
knows how to derive the best from these customs.
Sumali is on the right track to challenge the already established
painters and in a matter of time she will overcome the varying
conditions. With her acute observation, she will take art lovers into a
completely different world of sensation and emotion. The new language in
art she has been gifted with is not an indication that she is complete.
Sumali has a long way to go that can be hazardous because there are
equally talented ones still undiscovered. She must seize the opportunity
and not live to regret.
She is a good and wonderful painter Sri Lanka can be proud of.