France Sri Lanka Cultural Exchanges - Suriyakantha

  The bilingual site devoted to the cultural life in Sri Lanka and in France                                                        
Le site bilingue consacré à la vie culturelle au Sri Lanka et en France

H O M E   /   I N  B R I E F



Sri Lanka / France













Fascination of the body

Paul Cézanne

In the Light of Gauguin


Jean de La Fontaine

Malraux / Segalen


Pigeon houses in Quercy






Death Penalty

Mental Health



Miniatures of Kangra, India



Paradise Road The Gallery Cafe, 2, Alfred House Road, Colombo 3.
From March 12 to April 1
10 a.m. - 11 p.m. daily.


This is the artist's return
a return to the land of her birth
a return to the familiar scapes of her childhood
a return to the deep heart of her soul....

Sunela Jayewardene

In these paintings she seeks to express the currents of feelings that surge beneath ideological and religious relationships. She is intent above all on healing, self-healing and healing between nations and cultures and religions ; between ideologies and forms of government. It is also about the erosion of solitude, privacy and personal space in the modern world.
Not surprinsingly, she echoes and re-echoes in every work in this series the sentiments of Albert Camus :

There are no more deserts.

There are no more islands.

Yet there is a need for them.

In order to understand the world one has to turn away from it on occasion;
in order to serve man better, one has to hold them at distance for a time.

But where can one find the solitude necessary to vigour, the deep breath in which the mind collects itself and courage gauges its strenght?

Anoma is a wandering spirit and her eclectic interests extend from all forms of the visual arts to music and theatre, nature and the environment. While painting, she listens to music.

Anoma' art is an incitement to our imagination - for her it is her fulfillment.

Anoma principal assertion in these works is that a continuing dialogue is necessary. The past is a destination that cannot be bypassed. It protects the distinctiveness of cultures that underlie the unity of people. This in turn will lead to the recognition of diversity and thus open the minds of people.

Anoma, as an artist, is a synaptic phenomenon, a junction between cultures....

Professor S.B. Dissanayake
Excerpts from Sunday Times, March 10, 2002.


"Un visionnaire Moderne".

Musée d'Orsay, Quai Anatole-France, 75007 Paris.
Tel (00 33) 01 40 49 48 14

"A painting should narrate something, stimulate the viewer to think as a poem and leave him an impression like a piece of music..."

Arnold Böcklin

"Strange master who belongs not to any school and who pursues to elaborate his solitary works of fantasy..."

Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1886

"Böcklin has reached the limits of the grandiose. On the top of a rock, surrounded by heavy clouds, several centaurs madly fight (...) ; real combat of the Titans, Aeschylian work which victoriously attests to the descriptive power of the painter."

Basel, October 10, 1897
Report on the Exhibition Arnold Böcklin
by Henri Frantz

Combat of Centaurs, 1873, Kunstmuseum, Basel.


Musée Bossuet - Palais épiscopal,
5 place Charles de Gaulle, 77100 Meaux.
Tel (00 33) 01 64 34 84 45

Self-portrait with Death playing a violin, 1872, Berlin, Nationalgalerie.

    Born in Basel, Arnold Böcklin studied art in Dusseldorf. He travelled to Rome in 1850, and returned to his hometown of Basel in 1855 as a portraitist and landscape painter. During 1856-7 he lived in Munich, where he found a patron in Count von Schaek. He was appointed Professor of Landscape at the Weimar School of Arts in 1860, a position he held for two years before travelling again to Rome, and came back to Basel in 1866. In 1876 he finally settled in Munich.

    Although he studied and worked throughout much of northern Europe - Düsseldorf, Antwerp, Brussels, and Paris - Böcklin found his real inspiration in the landscape of Italy, where he returned from time to time and where the last years of his life were spent.

Böcklin first won a reputation with the large mural "Pan in the Bulrushes" (c. 1857), which brought him the patronage of the king of Bavaria (state in southern Germany). From 1858 to 1861, he taught at the Weimar Art School, but his nostalgia for the Italian landscape pursued him. After an interval during which he completed his mythological frescoes for the decoration of the Public Art Collection (Öffentliche Kunstsammlung), Basel, he settled in Italy and only occasionally returned to Germany, and then to experiment with flying machines.

First and foremost, he was a landscape painter. In his numeric mythological subjects he sought to express the soul of the landscape in the figures to which it gave birth. Böcklin's mature works - the symbolist and mythological paintings - are notable far more for originality and bold conception than power of draughtsmanship. Some of his works tend to a heavy eroticism, and some are disturbing and rather lurid. His moody landscapes and sinister allegories greatly influenced late 19th-century German artists and presaged the symbolism of the 20th-century and paved the way for Metaphysical and Surrealistic artists.

    Island of the Dead, 1880, Kanstmuseum, Basel.

During his last two decades, Böcklin's work became increasingly subjective, often showing fabulous creatures or being based on dark allegorical themes, as in "Island of the Dead" (1880), which provided the inspiration for the symphonic poem The Isle of the Dead by the Russian composer Sergey Rachmaninoff (1873-1943). Such spectral scenes as his "Odysseus and Calypso" (1883) and "The Pest" (1898) reveal the morbid symbolism that anticipated the so-called Freudian imagery of much 20th-century art.

Sri Lanka


"Retrospective Art Exhibition"

December 2001
Lionel Wendt Art Gallery, Colombo.
Since her debut nearly four decades ago, Winitha Fernando's aesthetic creations have won her accolades and awards including an Honorary Diploma from Paris in 1979

Since her debut nearly four decades ago, Winitha Fernando's aesthetic creations have won her accolades and awards including an Honorary Diploma from Paris in 1979.

Now after nearly half a century of pursuing a predominantly secular mode of art, in which sensuous rounded figures of women at work and landscapes dominated her canvas, this versatile artist has decided to devote her twilight years of life to religious art - focusing mainly on Christian Art.

    "I have been invited to exhibit some of my new paintings at the Ripon Cathedral and I'm looking forward to holding a seminar on "Fullness of Life through Art" at an international conference to be held in early January next year."

    Which is why, as a final gesture, Winitha has decided for the last time to hold an exhibition of her work covering a 30 year period from 1970 to 2000, at the Lionel Wendt Art gallery this month.

    "I have called it a " Retrospective Art Exhibition", as it will display most of my work during the past three decades. It will probably be the last exhibition of this kind that I will hold."

Passionately fond of her homeland despite long absence from Sri Lanka, Winitha asserts that most of her inspiration for her paintings comes from her homeland.

A close relative of the well-known artist David Paynter who was her tutor at the Institute of Aesthetic Studies, Winitha admits he influenced her especially in her figure compositions.

"He was my maternal uncle. In fact, he lived in our house at Lunawa when he was executing that beautiful painting of the "Transfiguration" for the chapel at St. Thomas's College, Mt Lavinia."

Reference : Carol Aloysius - Sunday Observer December 9, 2001


"Hurrah for the Circus"

Barefoot Gallery,
706, Galle road, Colombo.
tel (00 94) 01 58 93 05

Untitled, Acrylic on handmade paper, 1998.


    "You'll see no big, elaborately-finished canvases gleaming with potential investment value, no mixed-media 'installations' betraying nothing more than their creator's inability to combine novelty with taste. What you will see, instead, is a collection of lucid pen-and-ink drawings, each one displaying more wit and imagination in its exploitation of technique alone than most of his rivals can bring to the execution of entire oeuvres. Not that Muhanned is the kind of artist who flaunts his technique; more often than not, he reveals it by concealing."

    Richard Simon,
    The Sunday Times, November 15, 2001.

"Hurrah for the Circus", an exhibition of his drawings is on display at the Barefoot Gallery from November 26 to December 9, 2001.



Siddhartha Art Gallery,
Kathmandu, Nepal.

    Some 45 traditional paintings by Jayasiri Semage, depicting Sri Lankan village folk, lifestyle, environment etc. will be displayed at an exhibition from November 30 - December 10, 2001 at the Siddhartha Art Gallery in Kathmandu. This exhibition makes Semage becomes the first Sri Lankan artist to display the works in Nepal.
    The exhibition is organized by the Sri Lankan Ambassador in Nepal, Premila T. Deen, and the Embassy staff.

Semage, as an artist, enjoys a pre-eminent place in both the local and international scenes. He is well known as an artist with an outstanding local touch. His creations may be seen in the Buddhist Viharas of Malaysia, Singapore and Penang. He has had over 10 solo-exhibitions, both locally and abroad (ranging from Spain and USSR, to Japan and Korea).

Semage's stylization has been influenced by Picasso. The Buddhism too plays a vital role among his themes. His pigments are soft earth and pastel-toned. The figures are curvaceous and easy on the eyes, harmonious compositions with rhythmic designs.

This self-taught artist who was born in a small fishing village in the Southern Sri Lanka recalls the memory of his roots :

      "As a native villager I've retained many picturesque images from my childhood. Village men and women, as well as children, still linger in my memory".




Homage to George Keyt (1901 - 1993)
Sri Lankan painter, writer and poet.


All true art today is universal (...)

True painting is not description, as there is another language for that. It is not even definition. It is emphasis in its most unequivocal form of line, colour and shape. But to those not literate in it, painting is as meaningless as any other language, though perhaps more tantalising.

George Keyt, On Art, Sankha, September 1958.

George Keyt by Lionel Wendt
(c) Lionel Wendt Foundation

George Keyt, Artist with Muse, 1963
Collection Mr. & Mrs. Nihal Rodrigo

See our Gallery :
     Miniatures of Kangra

Born in Sri Lanka, Keyt started exhibiting in the 1920s and the work from this period is strongly influenced by Buddhist and Hindu iconography.

The 1930s saw him preoccupied with the depiction of episodes from the Jatakas, culminating in the representation of the life and times of Buddha on the walls of the circumambulatory shrine room of the Gautami Vihara, Borella in 1940.
At the same time, he was exposed to the influence of Western Art, in particular the early cubist landscapes of Picasso and Braque, as well as Picasso's distortion of the human figure. It was Keyt's unique achievement to fuse these influences into a new artistic vocabulary.

In1954, his work was exhibited at the ICA, London by Sir Herbert Read and afterwards this exhibition travelled to the Art Institute, Rotterdam. His work is to be found in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, as well as various public and private collections in India and Sri Lanka.

"Like Ediriweera Sarachchandra in drama, Chitrasena in dance, Amaradeva in music and Lester James Peiris in cinema, George Keyt represents an enduring triumph for Sri Lanka and the people who value their art.

Much has been written of the artistic "influences" on Keyt - from Sri Lankan temple paintings to Cézanne, Braque, Picasso and Cubism ; from Kangra miniatures to Hindu sculpture ; from other modes like the Indian raga and the Sringara tradition to even indeed Walt Disney (the Yakshas in the Mara Yuddaya at the Gotami Viharaya in Borella!)."

Nihal Rodrigo, The Island, April 11 2001.

An exhibition of George Keyt's paintings, the launch of a postage stamp and a book release have been organised by the George Keyt Foundation to mark the master painter, writer and poet's 100th Birth Anniversary which falls on 17th April.

The stamp in his honour and the Centennial Anthology have been launched on April 24. The exhibition was held from April 24 to May 5 at the newly constructed Harold Peries Gallery at the Lionel Wendt Arts Centre. The anthology contains prints of a large number of George Keyt's paintings, a collection of articles written on the artist and his work and a collection of his poetry.

The George Keyt Foundation's schedule of events for the year includes this special programme to mark the artist's 100th birth anniversary. The second Kala Pola for the year will be held on July 8 and the annual international artists' camp and 'Nawa Kalakaruwo' is to be held towards the end of the year. An exhibition of 'Sri Lankan Painting and Sculpture' is also to be organised for August.


  • Sankha - Journal of Arts and Letters, Number 2, September 1958.

  • 43 group - Catalogue of the exhibition, In honour of George Keyt at 90, presented by The George Keyt Foundation, The Sapumal Foundation and The Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund,
    January 1991.

  • Moods and Modes - 50 years of Sri Lankan painting,
    The George Keyt Foundation, Colombo.

  • Lionel Wendt - A Centennial Tribute,
    The Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund, Colombo, 2000.

  • George Keyt - A Centennial Anthology, The George Keyt Foundation, Colombo, 2001.
  • George Keyt, Bodhisatva Vessantara giving away his wife Madri Devi to Sakra in the guise of a Brahmin - an episode from the Vessantara Jataka.