What Matters

What matters? The Sun, the moon and the stars. Love. The best kind. Unconditional, gentle, considerate and deep. Sex. Erotic, sensual, in unison. Babies in all their innocence. Family: the ties that bind us. Creating, creating original works that the world has yet to witness. Music matters. Meditation matters. Meditation is what will see us through. Exercise, yoga, specifically. Integrity matters. Integrity in action is authentic. Focus concentration and discipline will work. Find your light, shine with loving kindness, be mindful, be happy, may all beings be happy. People matter. Saying sorry matters, hard work matters. What matters is that we write. One day I hope to see my writing published in the form of a book. What matters? Matter, matters. Without matter, we won’t matter. No matter.

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Interview with Prasad Hettiarachi

 

 

I had the pleasure of meeting Prasad Hettiarachi when he exhibited at The Barefoot Gallery in 2015. He was introduced to me by a good friend and a British Artist who has  exhibited with us since 1995: Alex Stewart. Alex saw Prasad’s work at the Theerta Gallery in Borella and invited Prasad to come and see his work that was on show at Barefoot. Prasad came and was suitably impressed and inspired. Alex and Prasad have a lot in common. Both draw in miniature, Both use symbols to represent concepts and ideas, Alex’s are more in the mythological realm and Prasad’s symbols are grounded in his environment.

 I caught up with Prasad at the Barefoot Gallery to speak to him about his 2nd exhibition titled EXCLUSION, his ideals, and life in general. We spoke in the studio upstairs surrounded by beautiful pieces of art—Prasad’s exhibition was on view downstairs at the Gallery below. It was a blustery day, the monsoon was in full swing as were the kohas, their screeches loud and familiar, so unlike Prasad whose voice is gentle and dignified. Prasad struck me as highly intelligent, soft-spoken and very kind.

 What prompted you to become an artist?  I come from a background of art lovers. My father, H. A. Nandesena, worked as a painter, a wood polisher, and he liked to make things. He taught me how to paint at a young age—same age as my children are now. He is very clever person. He won the national lantern festival, came 1st in 2005 & 2006. I started seriously painting in Grade 6 – I’d see my father sketching drawings and other things—I thought and hoped to be a visual artist. I worked at painting. My other mentor was my teacher at school. He is a Buddhist Monk and his name is Pallathathara Thero- These were the two major influences in my early life.  I passed my O-level- and A-level exams with a distinction in Art. I had the grades to get into The Visual and performing Arts but missed the university deadline.

How do you work? I work in Mirissa temple as a conservationist at the SAMUDRAGIRI VIHARAYA  of temple. . I wake up in the early morning and catch the bus to Mirissa, which takes two hours. In the evenings when I comes home i spend time with my family helping the kids with their studies, talking to my wife; After which, I start painting, I work on paper and canvas working simultaneously on my paintings going back and forth on each one.  I don’t have a studio i pains everywhere; my easel is whatever is handy and near. His children’s desk, the floor, a table.  His favourite piece of art is one he worked on Last May Day, I worked on a set design with fellow artists and we painted a very large dragon holding a strong hand. (people power) The drawing is in the Fort. Today, my main job is working as a free-lance artist for the Central Cultural Fund.

Tell me how you came to call this exhibition Exclusion? Name was proposed by my friend and fellow artist, Laksiri. Exclusion is derived from Latin meaning to SHUT OUT. Every day I see my society and the lives of the people are changing very quickly without their choosing. Prasad would like the Government to give the people, freedom to think and act, freedom to live the way they want to, to be confident and to be able to trust the Government, to be secure. The gap is too big between rich and poor; and our taxes and funds are going into politicians’ pockets. Working people have problems, every day Government is not addressing their issues. Mega-projects are coming and moving their properties. However, he does not say that their lives are all about their problems.  Prasad shows in his painting that the ordinary persons’ views can also be funny and colourful. They have problems, like everyone–but they are choosing answers, sometimes wrong, sometimes right, but their lives are moving forwards.

What and who inspires you? What inspired this exhibition and why? He is stimulated by Party Politics, articles about art and politics in books, magazines and the internet, and his talks with friends, He enjoys discussing questions on politics and problems – He compares the daily news with party politics. This is what inspires him. HOWEVER, Prasad is an artist, as an artist he appreciates beauty, he paints about these problems with beauty— He thinks the LSSP party is right- he connects with their ideals., he has empathy for humanity at large. His favorite artist is Roy Lichtenstein he likes most of the modern artists such as Warhol and Jackson Pollack. 

Is there an artwork here that is your favourite?  And why? His favorite piece is: Knife sharpening machine is VI – it’s the one on the invite, and it’s the first painting in the knife sharpening series. He likes the color range. Emotions symbolically float up and disappear. This person has many hopes and emotions and they vanish every day –- the symbols represent the ordinary man and his hopes and dreams.

 

What is your favourite tool in your studio? A 000 triple brush. After painting a mural, the brush lost most of its hair and Prasad liked the result so he made his own brush called  it a triple 000 brush a brush with very little hair—Prasad’s brush. His brush makes it easier to paint intricately and in detail. Look at his paintings closely, there is much to see.

 What role do you as an artist have to play in society? I don’t want to be a star; my work is the star. 

 Prasad’s vision for the country: Equal. People should enjoy the same rights and privileges, usually accorded to the powerful and wealthy. This system does not support the ordinary man—system has to change—a revolution has to happen—Prasad is socialist with liberal leanings. The Government has no money. Our taxes should fund people’s projects. Thinking pattern needs to change. Working class people think that the Government has no idea of the common man’s problem. I don’t have an answer, all I know is that it’s a long journey. Every government has good policies for the people to start with, these need to be implemented with the help of intelligent men and women with good ideas and vision. Unfortunately, the ideals don’t follow through.

What’s integral to your work? The viewer integral to my work. Because they are the last judge of my work. They fill the white space with their character, their views, whilst being inspired by including Prasad’s ideas. He is hopeful.  Hope is important. We all must have hope.

What next?  Prasad would like to go an artist residency. I draw, make relief type sculpture and installations.  All filled with the miniature art. He is working on an exhibition which he hopes to hold next year at Barefoot







 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The SPIRITUAL Artist

druvinka (1) (1) 5*6

Druvinka 2017B

The Spiritual Aritist
Born in 1971, She was sent to art school as she was considered an introvert. She placed herself in a corner in order not to show her work;  never happy with her paintings, she used to hide her works of art.
She was inspired by Cora Abrahams and Nilanthi Weereratne-she was inspired by the conversations she had with them about art and books. (fascinating)
(Anjalendran was a big fan especially during her early years, He sold a lot of her paintings during that time.)
Cora Abraham, a famous art teacher in Colombo took her in as a special child, because her father was in the military.
Druvinka was introduced to many artists and their work by Ms. Abraham; she especially liked TURNER. His paintings of landscapes and the sea — she thought his paintings very mysterious– She was given blank canvases by Cora who said, “Be Free, Druvinka. Be Free! Express yourself!
Druvinka showed exceptional control and hand movement. It was then that her work went up on the walls and was exhibited in a small way.
She had her first solo exhibition at the Galadari Meridian. Arlene (her mum) and Druvinka organized an exhibition because she got a lot of praise and encouragement from her teachers, mentors, peers and other artists. She spent some time in Manchester, she submitted her portfolio of landscapes and was accepted (Manchester University, Portfolio of Landscapes. )
She graduated from Visaka, went to Manchester and then applied to Shanthineketan (got in and went) Why paint and make a living? “Because even if I have to be on the road I will try and make it” to the best of my ability. When she draws the character, the essence, of her inspired content comes through, other than a photographic message. I cannot get rid of the innermost feelings even now. Soul, essence and skill. Unlike early on, she is not at all inhibited by society or shyness.
Druvinka is spontaneous in her approach to her art, never scared of pressing oil colour onto canvas until something comes up. She paints in layers.
“Shanthineketen showed me the truth; India, Incredible India. One cannot bullshit your way through. Out went cushioning, the comfort of Colombo – In India she confronted reality – Felt small. A nobody. So you have to make it work. A survivor. Classmates left me alone, batch mates never exhibited, but Druvinka had experience. She kept to herself gathering information (an introvert) I didn’t know anything, spoke only when she knew the answers.
Druvinka is now secure in her art.—At Shanthineketen she met her husband, Bodh, a super artist and teacher, who controlled her totally. Bodh and a few others, made up a group called “We are International 1998.” They projected their work onto city walls and trees.
You are a great artist, I think you should work” You are a working artist, Bodh criticized her work, made her work, to make it better. She exhibited at the Lionel Wendt in 1995 and 1996. Druvinka is competent in pottery, sculpture, printmaking, textile design, painting, history of art, western, far eastern, and indian.
Druvinka chose to exhibit at Gallery 706 in 1996 where she showed her Embryo series.
This was soon followed by:
· Refugee series
· Karmic forces,
· Rising
· Lingam
· Beneath beyond
For Druvinka the process is crucial. She paints on raw canvas, bamboo paper, and rice paper. She paints vast metaphorical themes such as gods, goddesses, the universe, the afterlife. Therefore, her paintings are large; the largest is 15ft * 6ft. she exhibits at the Barefoot Gallery and has a special relationship with Nazreen Sansoni the curator of the Gallery. They are often mistaken for sisters.
Today, she paints on 1*1 canvases and paper but only for practical reasons. Even though the work is small, the concepts remain large.
1) Magic
2) Tantric
Without the darkness there is no light, dark and light work together — however, dark –eventually light comes out. However much you play with dark, the dark is only used for light to shine. Light is powerful it has to come. Think Leonard Cohen: There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.
I have learnt through my Sadana how to keep nothing inside, only the moment of being, so it’s becoming childlike, wisdom with no knowledge, It’s not possible to connect with the spirit world without being empty.
I no longer paint but only my body is used as an instrument for channeling from above, to canvas, so whatever appears is original and a message. Pathal means the underworld… one of the three worlds
Sadana is sacrificing certain things in life and sitting in meditation till you achieve something that you were searching for. Tantra is `connected to dark and light and represents the cycle of life, which is called: Samsara. Whatever Druvinka indulges in comes out in her paintings.
The 5 elements: water, earth, sky, fire and air, this is the magic and god. That’s what we are made of in illusionary world. The universal truth is Satyam, Shivom, and Sundaram.
Satyam means truth, Shivom is never dying soul, and Sundaram is the beauty of it all.
The spiritual and happy artist; DRUVINKA.
Nazreen Sansoni as told to by Druvinka.
December 2017

 

 

Druvinka: A Creation Story

To paint, as to produce any work of art, is to engage in an act of creation. In Druvinka’s work, creation itself becomes the subject. Her large-scale abstract paintings speak of inspiration, gestation, and genesis. On these canvases, she evokes the very sources of life, both human and divine.
Born in Sri Lanka and now based in northern India, Druvinka has over the past two decades developed a distinctive body of work devoted to the deepest mysteries of the human experience, and the transcendent realms beyond. Washes of watercolor and tempera sweep across bamboo paper; acrylic paint is built up in layers. Out of these watery depths, geometric and figurative forms seem to emerge and dissolve. There are recurring themes: the dark slit of a yoni, the imposing obelisk of the lingam. There are spherical bodies—be they ova or planets—concentric rings, and shadowy penumbra. In some works, liquid stains spread across dark, cosmic fields. In others, tangled forms writhe in a static explosion, as if the artist has distilled the chaos of birth in paint.
A retrospective look at Druvinka’s oeuvre reveals a clear evolution. Ten years ago, her canvases exhibited tight control: flat planes and square edged boxes constrained a swirling universe, like narrow windows onto outer space. In works from this period (DM 005.JPG), there’s a sense of foreboding, as if these alien forms could swing out of orbit unless they were kept hemmed in, locked beneath layers of acrylic paint. Druvinka’s perspective in these works is remote, as if she wants to maintain a safe distance from her subject.
Over the next two years, her style relaxes and softens. Her forms become looser and freer, and the perspective draws closer to reveal overlapping, translucent forms where once there were stark, opaque boundaries. The image of the yoni or vulva appears again and again, central and distinct (DSC00652). Her palette darkens, almost as if the viewer is being drawn into an underground cavern where shadowy forms overlap and merge. The paintings of this period are pregnant with longing.
And then in 2007, as if bound by some mysterious process of creative gestation, Druvinka’s canvasses begin to feature a proliferation of pale limbs, a nearly human figure. Her palette shifts from brown and green to crimson and orange (DSC00214). Gone is the quality of fear and constraint, replaced with an almost maternal confidence. That confidence remains in her more recent works, where her mastery of both form and medium is evident. In works from 2009, clear figures surface out of the layers of paint and paper: Ganesh floats in the foreground or peeks out from some dark opening, while serpents snake their way around the perimeter. Even the phallus has taken on a new quality of realism, as if the artist has allowed these symbols to rise from the level of the unconscious.
Take for example an untitled work from 2009 (DS_090303_9109.JPG). Here, the thick, dark body of a snake winds its way around the frame, while the elephant hovers ghost-like at the center. At the base of this mythic dreamscape appears a male member split by a leaf-shaped cavity: a merging of masculine and feminine. At the upper left, the phallus appears again, as ghostly as a palimpsest. No longer hidden or resisted as in earlier work, these forms appear organic, as if they have emerged without effort or calculation.
In her most recent works, deities and human figures feature prominently, though always against a backdrop of liquid shadows and cloudy dreamscapes. Her once relentlessly dark palette has lightened to mauves and pinks, creams and yellows; there’s a new emphasis on the divine feminine: Lakshmi hovers here and there, her neck garlanded with serpents.
Though many of Druvinka’s symbols stem from Hindu mythology, it would be reductive to read her paintings as emblematic of one religious tradition. To linger with these works is to bear witness to stories that are at once deeply personal and universal—stories that resonate across cultures and ethnicities, creeds and eras. In this way, Druvinka conjures a new world, drawing from many traditions to forge a vision distinct and unmistakable: a world that suggests nothing less than the whole of creation.

-Elizabeth Schwyzer
Arts writer, Santa Barbara, California, USA
http://www.independent.com/elizabethschwyzer

A moment on canvas.

Preethi Hapuwatte has been working as a designer at Barefoot,since 1972 under inspired guidance and genius of Barbara Sansoni, to whom she was apprenticed in her early years. Preethi says she caught Barbara’s eye because “I anticipated exactly what Barbara needed before she could vocalize it.” Preethi’s affinity for things artistic was nurtured in a creative household that included her engineer father and soon-to-be architect brother, Anura Ratnavibushna. Both were drawing and designing at home. Through the process of osmosis, Preethi’s career in the art and design field took off.
Her love of design and colour soon found expression on canvas, a natural extension of what she was already doing. She loves the “feeling of painting”, the brush on canvas gives her deep satisfaction. This exhibition titled Moments to refer to her unconsciously painted short burst of brushstrokes–a departure from her style shown in earlier paintings. in this case, each stroke signifies a moment in time. This collection of paintings has been worked on since 2010. To contrast a moment in time she paints trees and animal life onto the canvas to denote a lifetime of contemplation and presence. Time to stop and enjoy life —“We should also take a moment to appreciate ourselves and our relationships before they are gone, we tend to miss so many beautiful moments”.
To draw further attention to enjoy our moments instead of ignoring each other, she has chosen to juxtapose her granddaughter’s drawings with hers. Here, she looks for moments of DNA, an artistic heritage passed down from one generation to the next—Preethi is very curious as to what her granddaughter draws, if Preethi perceives a similarity to what she produces and, recognizes the potential, then it is easy for the her to “guide the child”—so they both can value each moment and acknowledge time spent together.
Preethi has had 10 solo and 20 Group exhibitions at Barefoot and other prominent spaces since 1994. Preethi’s work has included assignments by Hemas House, Pheonix Clothing, Ceylinco Seylan Towers and The Millennium Art Collection in the Netherlands—Each one has commissioned her work.

NS June 2012
NS June 2012

Stepping Out. Recent paintings by KAY BEADMAN

Stepping Out – Notes on Technique

As I prepared for this exhibition, Barefoot Gallery Director Nazreen and I engaged in a stimulating dialogue across the time zones – thank goodness for the wonders of skype! One aspect of our talk was my painting technique and these notes are a distillation of Nazreen interviewing me on this topic.

Subjects
The subjects in the Stepping Out series are all painted from life without using photographs or found images. These are real shoes and objects that are borrowed, bought or belong to me. Sometimes when I have a particular idea in mind it means searching the markets of Hong Kong to find the perfect teapot, toy or crystal ball! My studio is increasingly filled with an eclectic collection of objects which may one day find their way into a painting.

Composition
Arranging the composition is critical. The still lives can take hours of moving the individual objects in relation to each other, changing the viewpoint and trying different lighting options so the reflections and shadows fall as integral parts of the overall composition. Although the single shoes in the series stand alone without relation to another object in the picture plane, they were still carefully angled and lit until the composition worked.

Medium
I use acrylic paints for their versatility and because they mix with water and I prefer not to use other solvents. They can be thinned to watercolour consistency or used like oils but they have a very quick drying time. This enables me to work in layers in rapid succession. As I like to focus on one painting at a time and work solely on that until it feels finished, this saves me from having to set it aside to dry for days between layers of painting.

Painting techniques
Where a high level of realism is required, I use a traditional oil painting technique. This starts with a monochrome, tonal underpainting. For this stage the image is painted fairly accurately in just one colour with dark, mid and light tones. I usually use a burnt sienna for this with added white for the highlights. It looks something like an old sepia photograph at this point. Then colours are added in thin layers or glazes over the top. This technique allows for the build up of subtle gradations of colour and can give the effect of letting light reflect outward from the object, creating a luminosity that is hard to achieve otherwise.

In other areas, in the single shoe series for example, I want to contrast the high illusion of the depicted object with the very flat 2D picture plane itself. These flat backgrounds look simple but to achieve the matt finish and the intensity of colour, there are between four to eight layers of paint, often with different colours in the underlayers which subtly effect the final tone.

Palette
A final word should go to the palette. In my initial training in sculpture, colour was never a major consideration, I was mainly interested in form. When I moved to painting, colour became important but was still limited to a fairly neutral palette. The catalyst that changed my colour sensibility was the experience of coming to Sri Lanka. In the decade I have been visiting Sri Lanka, the paintings have taken on a vibrancy of colour that has become a key component in my work.

Kay Beadman, March 2012