The Sunday Leader

Eternal Landscapes By Artist Nuwan Nalaka 

This exhibition by Sri Lankan artist Nuwan Nalala will be on display until 3 December 2015 at Paradise Road Galleries. In conversation with the artist he explained his influences behind the creation of his new series of landscapes.


What is the inspiration behind ‘Eternal Landscape’?

I am searching for the rhythm of nature, the tropical monsoon; mountainous landscapes and vernacular architecture of Sri Lanka inspire me to capture their imagery with a meditative and eternal feel. I attempt to simplify form by stripping them down to their bare essentials making them an abstract expression of the journey of my own life. Symbolically these works represent the eternal and ultimate nature of human existence. Elements of nature and oriental philosophy have also played a role in my creation process. I play with colour trying to evoke the inner beauty of the structures. The paintings are linear and juxtaposed with light and shade as well as negative and positive space. Use of colour has a symbolic and eternal aspect and tries to evoke the inner beauty of structure. The feeling is linear and juxtaposed with light and shade as well as negative and positive space thus creating a chiaroscuro background. There is implication of the philosophy of Maya: What appears before us is not limited to what is seen. It goes beyond. My paintings are a journey and metaphorically represent the way of our life or the ‘sansara’.


Why do you choose to work with tempera and watercolour as your primary medium?   

Tempera is the oldest medium in art history. This was the principal painting medium before the advent of oil paint. Watercolour and gouache appeared later. We can find the use of oil based tempera in western world (Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Gothic art) and water based tempera can be found at the Ajanta Mural in India, which dates back to 1st century B.C. to 7th C. AD, and Mughal and Rajput miniature painting (16th to 18th C. AD). Later on this medium became popular among artists of Bengal schooling.  After that Sri Lankan artist such as George Keyt of the 43 Group also used this medium. For a long period of time this method had disappeared from Sri Lankan art. The characteristics of this medium are earthen, pure and more naturalistic which is homogeneous with my Eternal Landscape.

I personally am fond of working with watercolours. After I visited India, I have seen how Indian artists have broken the traditional and conventional method of watercolour painting and have reintroduced a new kind of technique. I was influenced by this to keep the material quality and accidental effect of the medium reinventing my own stylization on large scale paper.


How do you see yourself in comparison to other local contemporary artist?

Unlike modern art, postmodern art has broken all the boundaries in the visual art culture. Artist have the freedom to work with any medium and subject to express what they want. Contemporary Sri Lankan artists are working with different subject matter like investigation of self, frustration, pain, agony, fantasy, violence, sex, feminism, politics, love and post war in the island.

Parallel to this contemporary art, my works is narrative, linear, symbolic, mythological, religious, cultural as well as an expression of love, sexuality, power, belief and sacrifice.


The exhibition will be open from November 5, 2015 to December 3, 2015 at Paradise Road Galleries, 2, Alfred House Road, Colombo 03. Tel +94 11 2582162, OPEN DAILY 10am to midnight.


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