Ranaweera's evocative creations:
Life and love in black and white
Black and white, in the ordinary world may sound like too harsh
opposites, with no room for nuances in between. But on canvas, in deft
strokes and artful curves, the two opposites can converge to tell a
hundred different tales far more nuanced than what shades and hues and
tints and tones can only hint at.
is certainly the case when one stumbles upon the creative magnificence
of teacher- turned-fulltime artist Chandana Ranaweera, who has wielded
the simple tools of pen and ink with great dexterity to create unique
pieces of art that are both captivating and thought provoking.
Ranaweera, who taught art for the past 20 years and retired recently
due to ill health, has made pen and ink his forte, rejecting the
versatility of paint brushes and colour pallets, to create a style that
is uniquely his.
Ranaweera, who comes from an academically inclined family - his
father was a school principal and his mother is a retired school teacher
- received his primary education in Alawwa, where he hails from, and
followed a course in art at the Ceylon Society of Arts. Though for most
parts he is a self-taught artist, with no true guru, he says his stint
with the Society of Arts helped him gain more insight and experience
about painting, specifically his kind of painting, which has over the
years seen him hold several successful exhibitions in Alawwa, Kandy and
In lines that are sometimes stark, sometimes soft but always
evocative, he transforms the ordinary into extraordinary and the
mainstream into exquisite, like the village scene or the Vesak scene,
all of which snags the attention of even the non-connoisseur of art and
holds it captive, until sense in made.
simply calls his style line-drawing and says it does not leave room for
mistakes. How much the viewer perceives this perfection is moot, but
what each piece does is impart a message, which could either be
something the artist wants to impart and what the viewer interprets.
Most of Ranaweera's creations have a spiritual quality to them. And
the reasons for this becomes clear as one gets to understand that he
spent most of his life in the corridors of temples in his hometown. This
fact is also reflected in the murals and cave art that he favours.
Ranaweera's style is stark, modernists and hints of a Picasso
influence. He doesn't comment on this, but says his drawings attempt to
dramatise personalities and situations, using black ink and white space
to give depth, dynamism and vitality to the creations.
His style and daring have earned him deserved recognition, with each
new collection put on display drawing appropriate 'oohs' and 'aahs' from