5th September, 2004  Volume 11, Issue 8

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    


Seen and the unseen

An exhibition of paintings by Karunasiri Wijeysinghe titled Seen And The Unseen will be held at the BMICH from September 6-12. The special feature of this exhibition is that the paintings are based on 30 poems, composed by the two veteran Sinhala poets, Nandana Weerasinghe and Ariyawansa Ranaweera. These Sinhala poems have been rendered into English language by the versatile translator Tilaka Dharmapriya.

The paintings are not meant to be mere illustrations of the poems as is usually done. Instead the artist has attempted to grasp the subtle inner layers of meanings of the poems and portray them in his canvas. In other words, the colours of the artist are not mere hand maidens of the poetic word but a search into the roots of these two mediums, to try and find a harmony of sorts between them.

The artist poses the question: can such total harmony be effectively achieved? or else are these two mediums kindred spirits in spite of the fact that one uses colour and the other uses the word as their modes of expression. Do they travel some distance together in their search for perfection and take diverse routes at a certain critical point? Or is this an impossible attempt which is bound to end in failure?

These are the pertinent points thrown up by the artist, to be unraveled by the observer through a very close scrutiny of the paintings.

The two poets and the artist have certain common similarities in their approach to artistic expression. The two poets do not accept poetry as the arrangement of the most suitable words, in their most suitable contexts. Instead they consider that poetic intensity could be garnered only if words are kept in unfamiliar and unconventional situations. They believe that the poet should not only soothe the words but also beat them occasionally if the need arises, as Dylan Thomas has said. The image and the metaphor are two prominent modes of these two poets.

Karunasiri Wijeysinghe is an artist who strives to see the world, through intense concentration on individual objects. His eye rarely catches the wood but is focused on the tree. A small neglected object like a solitary rugged boulder, a worn out decayed tree trunk or an ant hill rising in a desolate landscape becomes the metaphors for his inner observation into the total universe. Artistic intensity through minute observation is his forte.

These are certain common features between the approaches of the artist and the two poets. The challenge is to blend them into a total common visual picture transcending the word.

Another feature of this exhibition is the English renderings of the Sinhala poems by Tilaka Dharamapriya. When the common acceptance is that true poetry is untranslatable, Dharmapriya tries his hand in translating the Sinhala poems.

It is transference and creation taken together. The bugbear of the translator, specially a translator of poetry, is his difficulty to grasp the idiomatic meanings and nuances of the original language and to reflect them in a different language. Dharmapriya has succeeded in overcoming this difficulty to a great extent. His translations are pure poetry which could be enjoyed in their own right.

It is truly worthwhile to visit this exhibition and experience this bold experiment. The exhibition is patronised by Sarasavi Publishers Nugegoda.

The trials of getting her voice back...

The Little Mermaid better known as the  World Under The Sea will be per formed by the students of Museaus College. The story revolves around the little mermaid who comes to the aid of a prince. The Prince is shipwrecked and the Little Mermaid Ariel saves him. She then falls in love with the Prince and wants to come to the surface to become a human and spend the rest of her life with him.

However, the little mermaid gets caught to the wicked witch who tells her she can be made into a human as long as she forfeits her voice. The Little Mermaid agrees. But once at the surface the mermaid cannot explain to the Prince who she is as she has lost her voice. After many adventurous and terrifying scenes with the help of Sebastian the crab, Flounder the fish and Scuttle among other friends of Ariel, she finally gets her voice back.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader play director Sylvana Willie Ferreira said most of the play is performed under the sea. Having started her career as a teledrama actress, Feriera joined Museaus College. After a period of 15 years of experience in handling choreography, Feriera finally tried her hand at directing and producing her maiden play. "I chose this play because it was not performed by any other school," explained Feriera.

According to Feriera, it has been wonderful working with the students. "The students are talented and have taken to their roles very well.

The cast includes Nimasha Perera - Ariel, Anushi Hakmanage - Triton (Ariel's father), Nethmi De Silva - the Prince, Vinuri Wickramasekera - Sebastian, Thisuri Dematagoda - Flounder, Shamika Rajapakse - Scuttle and Amanda Ekanayake - the witch.

 "This is my maiden play and I enjoy playing the role of Ariel. I made a lot of friends. My parents are very supportive of my role" said Perera.

"I like my part and enjoy the accent of Sebastian's singing. This is my first play and my parents enjoy my acting," explained Dematagoda.

"This is my second performance in a play after five years. I like the story and my part," added Rajapakse.

The Little Mermaid will be held on September 11 at the Bishop's College Auditorium at 6.30 p.m.

Taking the world by storm

By Risidra Mendis 

His creative mind works wonders and his thoughts move freely when he picks up a paintbrush to paint. For S. H. Sarath, mastering the art of painting is like a duck taking to water.

It was in 1968 that Sarath first took to painting. In 1974 he held his first solo exhibition. From then onwards Sarath took the arts world by storm when he decided to portray the bitter and deceitful incidents in life to the public in the form of paintings. Apart from the general public, politicians and famous personalities have shown interest in purchasing Sarath's paintings.

"Painting is not only for the rich and famous. Everybody must be taught to appreciate and understand the beauty of paintings," said Sarath.

It was Sarath who initially introduced the talent of local painters to the outside world. "Foreigners did not know that Sri Lanka had talented painters who could portray many subjects in the form of painting. But today there is a great demand for local paintings abroad," explained Sarath.

With over 30 years experience as a painter Sarath has today become one of the most sought after painters by people from all walks of life. Having participated in over 45 solo exhibitions both locally and abroad, Sarath has submitted over 100 paintings for exhibitions held abroad.

Having held solo exhibitions in countries such as Australia, Canada, Norway, Bangkok, Thailand, Malaysia, Germany and Yugoslavia, his group exhibitions were held in Brazil, UK, France, Japan, Korea, India and Bangladesh.

According to Sarath, a number of foreign buyers still have his paintings displayed in their countries. "Leslie Abeysekera has my first oil painting, which I painted in 1974 and President Chandrika Kumaratunga has my first powder colour painting painted in 1972," explained Sarath.

According to Sarath, Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had requested him to do a painting at the Education Ministry and S. K. Wickremesinghe got him to work on a major piece for the Commercial Bank Head Office. "The art education in Sri Lanka is very poor. Though students win prizes for their paintings, these artists are not up to the required standards. The industrial art field has to develop if the standards of artists are to be improved," explained Sarath.

Sarath thankded late H. D. Sugathapala, late Charles Abeysekera, Tissa Ranasinghe and late Ivor Baptist among others who supported him at the time to develop the art field.

Sarath's exhibition will be held on September 8 and 9 at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Pop rock and all that jazz

My first contact with Ruwani  was in 1983 when Dr. Reggie Seimon and his family gave a musical item at the Doctors' Annual Concert as the `Nightingales from Kandy.' I next met her in 1993 when Ruwani was back as a young lady from Canada with a double degree in mathematics and music. She told me her first love was music and that she was planning to open her own school of singing. She made her debut as a solo singer at a concert aptly called musical evening. Since then I have been to many of the concerts by the `Voices in Harmony': classical music songs from the musicals, legendary music from the movies and so on. So I have watched as the children and the choir grew in stature.

The last concert was of course somewhat different. Pop Rock And All That Jazz, it was called. We sat back and enjoyed the medleys performed by the combined senior and junior choirs. The arrangements for four-part voices were clever and most of them written by Ruwani herself. The complex 'choreography' on the stage as the choir moved in between items was a delight to watch, done with finesse. The rhythmic movements by the girls themselves were appropriate and visually effective. Special mention must be made of the Fusion Medley with tunes like Danno Budunge and Jayamagalaani arranged by Mahesh Denipitiya was to me, the highlight of the evening. The costumes and the dances were graceful and professional.

The backdrops which were projected and the lighting created the appropriate mood for each item. Congratulations Ruwani and the 'Voices in Harmony.'

There will be a repeat performance on Wednesday, August 8 at the Lionel Wendt Theatre at 7.30 p.m.

- Selvie Perera 

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