Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

Nature is his canvas

“Sometimes, I work at night when I feel inspired. I have a little daughter and I have to find the time to paint when she is sleeping.”

- By Sirohmi Gunesekera

If you take a walk along Green Path, you will come across splashes of colour on canvas as young artists exhibit their work. Way back in 2004, one of these enterprisi­ng young men was Ruwan Prasanna who has since made his mark in the art world with successful exhibition­s both solo and in groups. He studied Art at Heywood and then joined the “Vibhavi Academy of Fine Arts”.

“Even as a child, I used to draw and colour,”he recalled with a smile. He hails from down South and Galle is his hometown. He said that he studied the Abstract Art of Franz Klein andVan Gogh: “I used to draw real life and then I moved to abstract art. From Landscapes to Modern Art, I was also influenced by Piet Mondrien.”

He draws his inspiratio­n from nature and “Unknown Bird”is the theme of the group of his best-selling paintings.

“I started serious art about ten years ago. My brush strokes, space and colours create a landscape feeling as I progressed to contempora­ry landscapes. Now I do some extremely large works and one of them is hanging in the office of the“People’s Leasing Company”in Borella. It is 16 feet by 24 feet and falls into the“Unknown Bird Category”. Sometimes, it takes me over two months to paint one large canvas. I work on acrylic as the medium,”he said.

Ruwan now works in advertisin­g and finds time to paint in his spare time. “Sometimes, I work at night when I feel inspired. I have a little daughter and I have to find the time to paint when she is sleeping.”he shared.

Ruwan had his first Solo Exhibition in 2010 at Paradise Road Galleries and it was a sell-out. He held another Solo Exhibition in 2011 at the same venue. His Group

Exhibition­s include “Exhibition ofYoung Contempora­ries” in 2007 at the Harold Peiris Gallery in Colombo,“World Tourism Day”in 2007 at the Bentota Beach Hotel,“State Festival Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture”in 2007 and 2008 at the National Art Gallery,“Group Exhibition”at the Park Street Hotel in 2010, and in 2010 and 2011 at the ArtWay Gallery in Colombo. He exhibited his work again at the“Kala Pola”in 2007 and 2011.

What about art techniques? “Well, I am still looking for answers to my problems and am still learn- ing. I find answers when working on a canvas.”

Is there a niche for artists in Sri Lanka? “We thought there was no place for artists in this country. It is not ideal but if you work and draw new things, there is scope,”he replied.

“The correct attitude is also necessary on the part of the artist,”commented Harshi of the“Saskia Fernando Gallery”, adding, “It is a pleasure to work with Prasanna who is always welcoming and listens and incorporat­es constructi­ve criticism by Saskia.”

What advice would he give to aspiring artists? “You have to keep on working. I know some talented friends of mine who get discourage­d and don’t work,”he said, adding,“Earlier, I had no money to paint large canvases. But I say that you shouldn’t paint just for the money. Your soul must be in the work.”

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