The Power of Sri Lankan Art 1943-2012

This book traces the history and creative impulses of promising talent from the field of art in Sri Lanka. It highlights the works of 52 artists (1943-2012) and also focuses on the influence of the 43 Group, pioneers of the modern art movement in Sri Lanka. The group was a bold and iconoclastic coming together (in the 20s) of remarkable artists such as Lionel Wendt, George Keyt and Manjusri Thero (later LTP Manjusri), amongst others. Besides inspiring Sri Lankan designers, including legendary architect Geoffrey Bawa, the group had a profound effect on the appreciation of Sri Lankan art globally. This creative osmosis is discussed in the introduction to the book by Prof Sarath Chandrajeewa and poet Ruwan Jayakody, and in the epilogue by architect Cecil Balmond.

Art remains anchored in its context. As do the artists featured in the book. “To interpret a piece of art, one should understand the cultural and socio-political background in which it was created,” states Thisath Thoradeniya, an artist featured in the book. Unafraid to defy convention, these artists have resisted the homogenization of art, at the cost of lack of acceptance, criticism and financial tribulation. Through art, they have explored their own identities amidst a savage climate of war, natural calamity and catastrophe. “What does one say or what is customary to be said, at the end of a protracted war?” questions author Juliet Coombe in the writer’s note.

This graphically compelling and eminently readable book will lead the readers from sheer ignorance about Sri Lankan art to a deep admiration for the breadth of artistic exploration in a tiny island country over a period of just half a century.
Book: The Power of Sri Lankan Art 1943-2012
Publisher: Sri Serendipity Publishing House, Sri Lanka
ISBN: 978-955-0392-07-0
Price: Sri Lankan Rs 5,000 (46.3 USD)
Pages: 339
Book availability: Vijitha Yapa Books

Some images from the book…