“Beyond the Water Margin - Season 2”
The exhibition which commenced yesterday at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery will continue on August 18, 19 & 20.
Participating in the exhibition are seven contemporary Watercolour artists: Gunasiri Kolambage, Basil Cooray, Sanjeewee Senevirathna, Nilusha Weerakkody, Lalith Ranjan, Asanka Wijerathna & Sandatharaka Abeysingha.
“Beyond the Water Margin - Season 2” Watercolour exhibition is organized by IWS Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan branch of the International Watercolour Society (IWS). IWS country head Sanjeewee Senevirathna - a professional Watercolour artist commented on the collective effort, the exhibition and the medium.
“Watercolour originated in 18th century England and then spread throughout the world, making a characteristic sub-culture of its own. Exhibitions and contests, demonstrations and plein-air working, watercolour societies, workshops, watercolour museums, watercolour academies and conversations are the fields of the medium.” he noted.
Clarifying a myth on watercolour, he said “we generally accept that the watercolour originated from Europe but the truth is - the base of watercolour art was the Asian culture, mainly in China and Japan. The Chinese invented paper and the Japanese used water soluble ink to draw on the paper. The brushes they used were their traditional “Calligraphy brushes” crafted with soft animal fur. The method was modernized in Europe and therefore two different major streams called Asian and European evolved. The watercolour style in Europe, Latin America and Australia is commonly known as European style while that in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Hongkong and Malaysia is known as the Asian style. The modern European style is established on identities borrowed from the Asian stream.
“Marketing the product, meeting the requirements of art gallery owners, using expensive materials and pricing the artwork targeting a sale are among the problems for watercolour artists. Remaining as watercolour artists is a tough challenge we have undertaken.
Compared to other mediums such as oil paintings and acrylic, watercolour is not popular in Sri Lanka. It is widely known that watercolour is a difficult medium to handle since it cannot be revised once the brush stroke is applied; therefore the watercolour artist has to be precise in each brush stroke. An Indian watercolour artist Milind Mulick sums it up: “Painting by watercolour is like shooting an arrow, once shot, it cannot be brought back”!
“Marketing the product, meeting the requirements of art gallery owners, using expensive materials and pricing the artwork targeting a sale are among the problems for watercolour artists. Remaining as watercolour artists is a tough challenge we have undertaken. We had the passion to learn by ourselves and remained as we are despite the hardships. Art forms like these are restricted in the tight university structure; therefore even university students are not able to study watercolour at an academic level. Watercolour students must study international watercolour trends to fully understand how they have contributed in improving it while being creative and innovative,” Sanjeewee said.
“As artists, we believe in collective activities and efforts for the advancement of art. A group exhibition provides an array of experience to the art-loving public compared to a solo exhibition. “Beyond the Water Margin” is a turning point since this is the first in watercolour history in Sri Lanka, where seven professional watercolour artists are participating in an exhibition,” he said.
Explaining how the IWS impacts on the Sri Lankan watercolour art, Sanjeewee said his responsibility as the country head of IWS Sri Lanka was to connect local artists with the IWS and promote watercolour in Sri Lanka.
“Watercolour artists who are seeking opportunities to enter the international level, are encouraged by the IWS. Artists who have joined IWS participate at international competitions and exhibitions representing IWS Sri Lanka. Professional or amateur artists are allowed to join IWS Sri Lanka through the official Facebook page,” he said.
This being a rare event, the IWS Sri Lanka invites art lovers to visit and see the beauty of watercolour art.