France Sri Lanka Cultural Exchanges - Suriyakantha

  The bilingual site devoted to the cultural life in Sri Lanka and in France                                                        
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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



Fascinating Orient



Till 4 July 2011

The Genius of the Orient, modern Europe
and the arts of Islam

During the 19th century, Europe discovered a whole new artistic realm, that of Islamic art.
Originally a source of fascination and later enlightenment, Islamic art was embraced by Europeans during the nineteen and twentieth centuries.
The exhibition shines a spotlight on the decorative arts, Orientalist paintings and architectural designs in a series of encounters between the West and the Islamic East. The exhibition takes visitors back to when Islamic art was first introduced to Europe, through travelers and collectors such as Albert Goupil , who helped to popularize Orientalism in the nineteenth century. This exotic, figurative language permeated artistic creation in the late nineteenth century.
The exhibition takes an almost documentary approach, tinged with narrative, building bridges to satisfy a quest for knowledge about others.


From 27 May to 28 August 2011

Orientalism in Europe
From Delacroix to Matisse

The fascination with the Orient throughout the history of Western art came to a peak in the 19th century. Between Napoleon Bonaparte's Egyptian campaign (1798-1801) and Matisse's stay in North Africa (1906), Orientalism was to reach its golden age.
With more than 120 works, paintings and sculptures from the world's greatest museums and private collections, the exhibition Orientalism in Europe, from Delacroix to Matisse, offers a vast panorama of Orientalism, not only in France but also throughout Europe, alongside masterpieces by Ingres, Delacroix, Fromentin, Gérôme...


From the South of France

Kingsley Gunatillake
7 - 25 July 2006
Alliance française de Kandy

“Earth with hard red rubble. Pruned vineyards. Melted and twisted iron as if iron sprung from the earth. The strips of land with not so high mounds sprawl and spread far. The motifs remain un-intrusive of each other.
The different designs and motifs spread to the horizon until almost invisible. A cold that does not tire. The smell of the earth that is warmed by the gentle sun falling on it. As if the grape storks are growing, twisting and turning. The boredom and the anxiety slowly slip away as such.
I don’t have a profound theory on this. The few days in a small house in the village of Bédarieux in South of France. The pleasure of walking alone for seven, eight miles along the vineyards. The French cuisine, wine culture, pleasure of their hospitality and another world.
All these will be unraveling underneath the vineyard in my drawings. ”

Kingsley Gunatillake

  • Kingsley Gunatillake at Paradise Road Galleries (2001)  



    Abraham (Bible from Souvigny)
    Invitation to read or read again the great texts which have created our modernity, to come back to sources, to listen again and to compare bibles and corans. Invitation to understand the muddle of their histories in the depth of their filiations as well as in the admission of their breaking-off...
    The exhibition "Livres de Parole, Torah, Bible, Coran" goes through 3000 years of our history with the contribution of privileged witnesses, the sacred books.
    More than hundred exceptional and emotional documents show an immense human adventure, which is the adventure of memory and passing down.

  • February - April 2006
    Bibliothèque Nationale de France - site François Mitterrand
    Petite Galerie Quai François-Mauriac -
    75013 PARIS
  • Bibliothèque Nationale de France  
  • Our page "Spirituality"  

  • ____________________


    The non-Western sources of the 19th century French art

    After "Delacroix : A Passionate Struggle for Liberty” (1998), “The Cézanne Week” (2001), “Gauguin : The Savage Dream” (2003), and “Matisse : Apotheose of Colour” (2004),


    this year 2005's major exhibition of Alliance française de Kandy brought out the non-Occidental sources behind the Nineteenth Century's French art, through the works by Eugène Delacroix, Jean-Dominique Ingres, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Camille Claudel, and Henri Matisse, in an exhibition titled “Call of Exoticism – from Delacroix to Matisse”.

    The opening ceremony took place on August 26 2005 at 6.30 p.m. with the participation of Mr. Yves-Alain Corporeau, Conseiller de coopération et d’action culturelle of the French Embassy. The exhibition continued till September 04 2005.

    The cultural programme which accompanies the exhibition included a workshop designed for the art students (August 27 – 28) and a parallel exhibition from August 31 on displaying the works of 18 students who took part in the workshop.

    Exhibition by OLGA DIMITRI

    KANDY - Alliance française, from 21 May till 28 May 2004.

    The Alliance Francaise de Kandy took pleasure in hosting Olga Dimitri for her second exhibition in Kandy from May 21st to May 28. The opening was on the 21st at 6.30 pm. with the Honorable guest Ashley Halpé, Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Peradeniya.

    What influenced and motivated me to do the so-called wooden paintings and what is the idea behind them.

    "I was always obsessed with wood.
    I become entranced just looking at it, not to mention working with it. Even my first memory is related to wood. It is a memory of falling in love with an old wooden wall, its tarnished logs, their blackened patterns weaving into untold epics. And it loved me back. I just stood there, gaping, transfixed by our love. It’s one of those moments that last forever. I see infinity when I look at wood.
    Kandy influenced me a great deal.
    When I came to live on my husband’s tea estate close to that city in ’93, I was overwhelmed. Kandy is truly spiritual, without any of the new age nonsense. Paranormal activity, rich culture, a strong diversity of religious influence, both good and bad; a very mystic atmosphere in general. You can imagine what all this is like after the cold and bleak concrete metropolis, Moscow. And of course, staying at the estate was incredibly self-revealing. Nature was all around and that always helps you to reconnect with your true self.

    I began experimenting with wood in those early days when I lived on the estate. I began doing that when I discovered many wooden planks, corroded by termites, on one of the long-unused floors in my husband’s factory. This intensified those incredible patterns, tones and color gradations on wood that always so greatly fascinated me.
    Soon after this discovery, Dr. Dmitri, my husband, removed several of these planks for me to work on. And there it began. When I moved into Colombo, about a year later, the concept was swept away by other things, and it was only several years later that I started getting into it again, exploring it in a variety of ways.
    At present, it is the principle medium of what I do.As to the idea behind this whole project… well… first of all, as I have already mentioned, staying at the tea estate exposed me to nature a lot. It deeply inspired me and so I wanted to do something that could represent the experience of being connected with nature.

    It’s a family trait, I guess, this longing for nature.
    My father and grandfather were famous agriculturists. My husband connects to nature through his scientific exploration of tea plants. My sons, Andrey and Nikolai, connect through whitewater rafting and adventure tour guiding. For myself, I discovered wood to be the best representative for this experience of natural reconnection. Wood is universal to nature; it contains all the forces of nature within itself. Instead of focusing on carving pieces of wood into something, or using them merely as a foundation for a painting, I began doing things to expose the natural state of the wood. In other words, I use paint and sometimes woodcarving techniques in order to highlight what is already there. Paint is the background; wood is the foreground. As an old proverb says ‘nature is the best artist’; it only needs some publicity, which is what I do.

    A lot of influence came from the so-called group zero which, to badly oversimplify, was a 60’s art movement in Germany that focused on representing natural forces through color alone, especially monochrome. Their manifesto was ‘zero is silence; zero is the beginning; zero is round; zero rotates’. You can say the same thing about wood. It is something fundamental and essential. I would not call my work minimalist, although it certainly is very Zen because of how I try to absorb the observer into the experience of nature. I try to make each painting, each composition into a little door that opens up for the observer a different world, a world so easily lost in our frantic urban lives."


    KANDY - Alliance française, from 19 till 30 January 2007.


    Thilak Palliyaguruge, Vice President of the Executive Committee of the Alliance française de Kandy held his 12th Solo Exhibition of paintings from 19th January 2007 till 28th January 2007 at the Auditorium of Alliance française.
    The Chief-Guest at the opening ceremony was His Excellency Mr. Michel Lummaux, Ambassador for France in Sri Lanka and Maldives, and the Guest of Honour, Mr. Yves-Alain Corporeau, Cultural Attaché, French Embassy.
    Thilak Palliyaguruge had been associated with Alliance française since 1977 for his 3rd Solo Exhibition. Alliance française also sponsored his 10th & 11th Exhibitions in 2000 and 2003.
    This qualified Art teacher in English and architectural and landscape designer by profession had been involved with paintings since his school days, winning school prizes and awards in open Art Competitions. He was also responsible in conducting Art Workshops organized by Alliance française, and also by the Department of Cultural Affairs.
    In discussing about his paintings Dr. Nandadeva Wijesekara, an eminent authority of art, states thus: “the themes are simple, drawn from everyday life of rural community for the most part. The subjects selected are portrayed with certain sureness both of light and colour. Idealism has influence the artist to some extent.”
    He is presently planning to establish a Mini Art Gallery at his residence No. 48, Mahaweli Uyana.


    KANDY - Alliance française, from 24 May till 30 May 2003.

    Well, try answering this one then... a wave, a box, birds on a branch and a sand storm, what have they in common? If I said Art, would that make your smile? The day Kalabooshana Thilak Palliyaguruge, artist and member of the Executive Committee of the Alliance française de Kandy shared with me samples of his miniature abstract paintings, this is just what I saw... a wave on one painting, a box on the other, the birds on that branch and the sand storm which was sweeping everything away.
    The artist refrained from commenting on my interpretations in spite of my saying 'what did YOU intend it to be'? "I have left it entirely to the viewer to put a name on a painting... so the interpretation is yours alone" said the artist.

    The 11th solo exhibition realized by Thilak Palliyaguruge, bringing together around 150 miniature abstract paintings opens at the Alliance française de Kandy on Friday, 23rd May 2003 at 6.30 p.m.
    The exhibition is 'different' from the ordinary since there are no captions for the paintings and they do not follow any chronological order.

    Kalabooshana Thilak Palliyaguruge apart from his ten solo exhibitions has also 15 group exhibitions to his credit. His paintings bring pride to Sri Lanka since they are exhibited in many countries : in the USA, in Canada, India, Pakistan, France, Belgium, Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom to name a few. The US Association for the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka selected ten of his paintings for exhibition at the Association's headquarters in Washington. Last year Palliyaguruge received the Asirwada Medal at the Cultural Festival organized by the Kandy Cultural Council.

    Thilak Palliyaguruge, apart from being a reputed artist, is also an architectural landscape designer. He was instrumental in designing the entire biodiversity complex on Gampola's Ambuluvava Mountain. Prof. Ashley Halpé says this of Thilak Palliyaguruge's work. "It is a wonderful visual experience and a stimulating call to the imagination. Beautiful work. Meaningfully presented".

    Seeing is believing ...

    Kush Herath
    Senior Lecturer in French
    University of Peradeniya


    Matisse-Picasso à Paris

    Il faudrait pouvoir mettre côte à côte tout ce que Matisse et moi avons fait en ce temps-là. Jamais personne n'a si bien regardé la peinture de Matisse que moi. Et lui, la mienne... "

    It will be interesting to put face-to-face what Matisse and me have produced at that time. No one has never looked at Matisse's art so closely as me; and him, mine...

    Propos de Pablo Picasso in Pierre Daix,
    Picasso Créateur,
    Paris, 1987, p.74

    On vient d'avoir l'idée la plus rare et la plus imprévue, celle de réunir dans une même exposition les deux maîtres les plus fameux et qui représentent les deux grandes tendances opposées de l'art contemporain. On a deviné qu'il s'agit d'Henri Matisse et de Pablo Picasso...

    We had this most unforseen and the rarest idea to reunite in a single exhibition the works of the two most famous masters and the two major opposite tendences of the contemporary art. They guessed that the exhibition has to do with Henry Matisse and Pablo Picasso...

    Ces lignes de Guillaume Apollinaire introduisent en janvier 1918 le communiqué de presse annonçant l'ouverture à la galerie Paul Guillaume de la première exposition conjointe jamais consacrée à Matisse et Picasso.

    The two artists are seen together in over thirty groupings of works revealing the affinities, but also sometimes the extreme contrasts, between them. The works shown have been carefully selected to be comparable in both scale and quality. The artists' relationship is traced from its beginnings in Paris in 1906, when they first began to meet regularly in the studio of Gertrude and Leo Stein. After Matisse's death in 1954 Picasso paid tribute to him in his work, both directly and indirectly. Of his series of variations after Delacroix's Women of Algiers, painted in 1955, he said "when Matisse died he left his odalisques to me as a legacy".

       Pablo Picasso,
    Nature morte
    au pichet et aux pommes (1919)
    Huile sur toile,
    65 x 43.5 cm Musée Picasso, Paris

    From 1906 to 1917 there was open rivalry and intense innovation, when between them they produced some of the greatest art of the twentieth century. This period will form the densest part of the exhibition. Among the revealing and exciting pairings are Picasso's monumental Boy Leading a Horse of 1906 and Matisse's Le Luxe 1 of 1907; Matisse's celebrated Blue Nude and Picasso's relatively little known, aggressively primitivist Nude with Raised Arms, both of 1907; and, in a stunning sequence of paintings of women, Matisse's great portrait of his wife of 1913 and Picasso's majestic Woman with a Fan of 1908. Other sections are devoted to still life and landscape. A key section shows Matisse responding to synthetic Cubism in his Moroccans and Piano Lesson, both of 1916. Picasso in turn responded to Matisse's interpretation of Cubism by producing a new, more decorative Cubism of his own, as for example, in Three Musicians of 1921.

    In 1917 Matisse moved from Paris to Nice, and the two artists grew apart as Picasso became increasingly involved with the Surrealists. Yet they continued to study each other's work and during the 1930s their sheer fame, and their commitment to art based in reality, drew them together once again.

    During the Second World War Matisse was isolated in Nice, while Picasso remained in difficult circumstances in occupied Paris. But they managed to exchange works and increasingly drew support from one another. After the war Picasso moved to the South of France and their relationship entered its final and closest phase, reflected in the section featuring Matisse's Large Red Interior, 1948 and Picasso's The Studio at Cannes, 1955. In a dramatic climax, the final section of the exhibition will concentrate on the acrobatic swimmers, dancers and nudes that both produced throughout their careers, and will reveal the remarkable cross-over between Picasso's late sculptures, which became increasingly flat and pictorial, and Matisse's great late cut-out paper collages.

    Henri Matisse
    Nature morte aux oranges (1916) Huile sur toile
    54 x 65 cm
    Collection part., Paris

    Source : The official website of the exhibition


    Gauguin in New York Collections
    The Lure of the Exotic June 18 - October 20, 2002
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

    The Yellow Christ, 1889, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.

      This major exhibition will mark the first occasion in more than 40 years that Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) has been the subject of a major monographic show in New York City, and the first time that the Metropolitan Museum has displayed its entire collection of the artist's work.

      Approximately 120 works drawn from New York public and private collections will be on view in the exhibition comprising paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints. The exhibition will feature works from every important stage of the artist's career and from each of his outposts in Brittany, Provence, Martinique, Tahiti, and the Marquesas Islands.

    The Metropolitan Museum acquired its first Gauguin in 1921, and in the intervening years his work reached an ever-widening public audience through the concerted efforts of prominent New Yorkers and local institutions.

    Thanks to pioneering acquisitions and the generosity of donors, the Metropolitan and other museums in the state-from the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan to the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo-have afforded generations of viewers a vivid sense of Gauguin's genius. Shown together, these purchases, gifts, and bequests to public museums, combined with the holdings of discerning private collectors, many of which have hitherto never been on public view, will provide a rich overview of Gauguin's fascinating career and a telling account of the reception of his works on this side of the Atlantic.

    The catalogue.

    This volume explores the development of Gauguin's art in the context of his travels, discusses the history of the collecting and exhibiting of the artist's work in New York, investigates the technical examination and authentication of his paintings, and sheds light on the materials and techniques Gauguin employed in his works on paper. In addition, many revealing excerpts from Gauguin's letters and other writings-he was a prose stylist of distinction-are included.

    256 pages, 222 illustrations (134 in full color), 8 1/2 in. x 11 in. Available in cloth or paper.

    Source : The official website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art



          Men and women in the Indonesian Archipelago

    From 18 May to November 2002,
    Musée des Arts Asiatiques, 405, Promenade des Anglais, Nice.

    In the Indonesian archipelago, the classification of activities and objects according to their type is one of the most typical elements of the thought systems.
    Thus it is around this topic that the presentation of around hundred art objects indicative of Indonesian culturesa, borrowed from the Musée de 1'homme, Paris, the Musée des Tropiques, Amsterdam, the Museum Nusantara, Delft, and from private European Collections is organised.
    It focuses on two main axes : the arts of metal or kris, essentially daggers, phallic symbols for use of the men's world, and the arts of textile practised by women.

    As far as we know, it is the first time that Indonesian art is called upon in an exhibition through these meaningful topic.



  • Treasures of Asian Arts. - Spring 2000 (FR)

  • "Méditerranée, from Courbet to Matisse". - September 2000 (FR)

  • Edouard Manet honoured... - December 2000 (FR)

  • Hommage to George Keyt. - January 2001 (SL)

  • School of Paris. - January 2001 (FR)

  • Anoma Wijewardene à Paradise Road Galleries. - Mars 2001 (SL)

  • Exhibition of Vibhavi Academy of Fine Arts. - March 2001 (SL)

  • Kingsley Gunatillake at Paradise Road Galleries. - March 2001 (SL)

  • Anoli Perera "in the Entangled Web". - May 2001 (SL)

  • Alberto Giacometti at the Centre Pompidou : Le dessin à l'oeuvre. - May 2001 (FR)

  • Arnold Boecklin : "Un Visionnaire Moderne". - October 2001 (FR)

  • Muhanned Cader : Hurrah for the Circus. - November 2001 (SL)

  • Jayasiri Semage at Nepal. - December 2001

  • Winitha Fernando : "Retrospective Art Exhibition" - December 2001 (SL)

  • Jayamini de Silva : "STHREE" - July 2002 (SL)

  • GANGCEY 13 : "Young Indian Artists" - July 2002 (SL)