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


Lionel Wendt (1900-1944)
Sri Lanka


Jeanloup Sieff (1933-2000)


Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund inaugurated the Harold Peiris Gallery at the Lionel Wendt Art Center, December 3 2000, to mark the Centenary of the birth of Lionel Wendt.
The Gallery presented an Exhibition of original photographs of Lionel Wendt with the launching of

Lionel Wendt - A Centennial Tribute
Numbered edition with hard cover of 250 photographs.

The Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan has organised, in October 2003, a photographic exhibition entitled
'Modern Artists III - The Gaze of Modernity'

featuring a wide range of modern photographic works by
Sri Lankan photographer Lionel Wendt (1900-1944).
The exhibition continues till October 28.
Ill.: Title unknown (Collection - Nalin Tomar and Mahijit Singh, Delhi)

Lionel Wendt  was born on December 3, 1900 in Colombo, Ceylon.

    " The pianist, photographer, critic, and cinematographer, Lionel Wendt was the central figure of a cultural life torn between the death rattles of the Empire and a human appraisal of the untapped values of Ceylon. "

    His friend Ricardo Neftali Reyes Basoalto (1904-1973), consul of Chile in Ceylon, well known as Pablo Neruda, Memoirs.

The most famous photographer of Sri Lanka, Lionel Wendt, occupied a central place in the artistic life of his country. He was an intellectual, and knew also to give life to a plentiful artistic expressions like music, painting, photography and cinema.

With B. G. Thornley and P. J. C. Durrand, in July 1935, he initiated the "Photographic Society of Ceylon".

His contribution was essential in the formation of the "43 Group" whose the inaugural meeting was held in Wendt's house, 18 Guilford Crescent, on the 29th August 1943. At this place now stands the Wendt Memorial Theatre. The objective was to regroup some independant painters, such as George Keyt and Ivan Peries - artists who are now recognized as the best representatives of the mid-century modernism in Asian art.

He took part in many exhibitions in Sri Lanka between 1935 and 1944. His photographs were exhibited in Europe, America, South Africa and Asia...

It is important to highligt the Exhibition "Camera-Work", presented in 1940 in Colombo with 267 prints. There, he embraced the main aspects of the Sri Lankan life and culture, to which he was thoroughly attached.

His themes are marked by richness and diversity : landscapes, daily life - without forgetting its social dimension -, architecture et archeology, photo-montages with details of a human chest or a fresco, portraits, particularly the nudes where he likes to depict the aesthetic value of the human body...

He found the way to harmonise his knowledge and interest for modern expressions of art (Magritte, Man Ray, Chirico...) with his concern on the representation of traditional aspects of the Sri Lankan life. His fertile imagination uses a range of technical processes : photo-montage, photo-collage, solarization, relief prints, photograms...

He was close to the realism of Jean-Eugène Atget (Jean-Eugène Atget ,1857-1927, father of the photo-reportage), the surrealism of Man Ray and the social documentary of the photographers of the FSA (Farm Security Administration, USA).

It was on the site of his house that, soon after his untimely death, was created the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery under the auspices of the Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund.

The role of Lionel Wendt in Sri Lankan painting stands "in the same relation the photographer Man Ray stood to French."

W. G. Archer
India and Modern Art, London, 1959.



  • Lionel Wendt's Ceylon, first edition 1950, Lincolns - Prager Publishers London, reedition, Navrang, Lake House Bookshop, 1995.

  • Lionel Wendt Photographs, Catalogue of the Exposition, "Rediscovering Lionel Wendt" by Manel Fonseka, Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund, 1994.

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


Read more

  • Lionel Wendt and George Keyt — a close-up



    Being in Colombo between the 4th and the 17th December 2000, we had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Lionel Wendt Gallery (18, Guilford Crescent, Colombo) where some 99 works of a great Sri Lankan photographer were exhibited .

    It was a homage to Lionel Wendt on the 100th anniversary of his birth. If we can appreciate the richness and the diversity of his talent with the use of many technical processes, the most attractive is the Wendt's ability to show the lines of a face or a body which are caressed by a soft light, the same light which naturally caresses the ancient woods of Embekke.

    There, we meet sculpture and dance in a celebration of the fascination for beauty.

    The Lionel Wendt Gallery stands in the charming "Cinnamon Gardens" with the Viharamahadevi Park. In the close proximity, the National Museum.



      Jeanloup Sieff died the 20th September 2000.

      Well-known photographer, we remember his portraits of celebrities : Yves Saint-Laurent, Alfred Hitchcock, Françoise Sagan, François Mitterrand and Jean-Paul Sartre, and of his American landscapes, particularly the Death Valley (1977).

    Born in Paris in 1933, he was of Polish origine and pursued his career of photographer by essentially focusing on four themes : fashion, landscape, portrait and nude.

      In 1986, there was a Retrospective Exhibition in the "Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris". He received, in 1992, an important award, the "Grand Prix National de la Photographie".

      He was used to telling to his models : "Faites comme si je n'étais pas là..."(Behave as I am not here..). His work is marked by a progressive development of contrasts between black and white and a more and more expressionist tendency.

    He qualified himself as a "lazy, superficial, and frivolous photographer...". His work is full of nostalgy and melancholia, and emotion as it appears in this quotation of Jeanloup Sieff :


    "I remenber some accidental euphoria, a spring morning, that originates from the unpredictable encountering of a sun's ray, a forgotten smell and a childhood memory..."

    On the book-shelves of our library   


      Demain le temps sera plus vieux
      (Time will pass like Rain)

      Ed : Taschen


      Faites comme si je n'étais pas là
      Rencontres et portraits

      Ed : De La Martiniere Eds


    Emile-Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929),
    sculptor and... photographer.

    It is beautiful being,
    but how much it is moving when we feel ouselves becoming.
    Emile-Antoine Bourdelle

    L'Oeil et la main (The Eye and the Hand) :

    Bourdelle and the photography

    A recent exhibition of 200 prints.
    Musée Bourdelle
    16, rue Antoine-Bourdelle, 75015 Paris.
    Tel : 00 33 1 49 54 73 73

    It is during the night
    that Bourdelle liked to photograph his sculptures...
    by using lights from below
    in order to emphasize forms.

    For the first time, an exhibition was organised from the photographic collection of the Bourdelle Museum.

    The theme concerns "Bourdelle and his work" with views of his studio and his sculptures.

    This collection contains more than 2500 paper prints and 6000 negatives.

    The exhibition "L'Oeil et la main" displayed a totally new selection of more than 200 photographies - paper prints, negatives, stereoscopic views - in association with plaster casts, sculptures, and drawings which have been specially restaured for this exhibition.

    Emile-Antoine Bourdelle combined the emotional poignancy of Romanticism with the monumental classicism of ancient Greek sculpture.

    Born in Montauban, France, to a working-class family, Bourdelle moved on to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1884 and worked in the studio of Jean-Alexandre-Joseph Falguière and from 1893 to 1906, with Auguste Rodin.

    Adam (236x112x107cm) 1889
    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

    Torse de l'épopée (125x63cm) 1917
    Gal. JJ Dutko, 13 rue Bonaparte, Paris.

    In contrast with the naturalism of Rodin, Bourdelle looked to classical precedents, particularly the sculpture of Archaic Greece.

    In 1889, Bourdelle created several cast bronze interpretations of Adam, including fragmented torso studies, a small 25-inch sculpture, and the monumental version installed in the Cullen Sculpture Garden ( Museum of Fine Arts, Houston).

    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston). This work illustrates the artist's lifelong interest in grand scale and the idealized human body.

    There is only the need of one system,
    which is no system at all.

            Let go towards all the horizons of art,
            all the horizons of the world,

        looking for some still unrevealed flowers,
        growing on some forgotten flowers.

          Emile-Antoine Bourdelle


    On the book-shelves of our library   

    Antoine Bourdelle



    Ionel Jianou, Michel Dufet

    Musée Bourdelle

    La Sculpture et Rodin
    With twenty-two compositions by Antoine Bourdelle,
    (nineteen unpublished compositions), and preceded by "Quatre Pages de Journal" by Claude Aveline
    Paris, Editions Emile-Paul Frères, 1937.

    Arted, Editions d'Art, Paris, 1970.

    Bacchanales et chèvre - pieds
    Catalogue of the Exhibition, June-September 1982.


  • Read also :

  • CHE GUEVARA Photographer in Ceylon / NOSTALGIA.
  • Kandy Alliance Photo 2003.