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'Departure and Return Paintings' by Anoma Wijewardene

Venue : The Gallery Cafe

Dates : November 19 - December 8

Times : 10 am - midnight

'Now you feel how nothing clings to you;

your vast shell reaches into endless space...

In this new collection of paintings by Anoma Wijewardene the birds seem to swoop in the sky, cracking open egg shells like Leda's cygnets - they seem to soar into an unknown world.

These birds have left the shuttered windows of her earlier paintings. Windows closed to keep the afternoon sun out. They have flown through the open doors of mogul palaces, through the arches of gothic ruins and the thoranas of the Buddhist temples of her earlier work.

The vast shell which hides and protects itself becomes the 'endless space' and freedom to express is not confined any more by parameters of cultural identity.

The eye roams about on the painted surface of layers and textures, like her birds free to fly in that immense space, searching behind the blurred surface, discovering images.

The birds are hidden in the clouds of a sunset blotted by rain: hawks, eagles, falcons and birds of prey are at bay, making the swift movement of the swallows appear a wishful longing, to be free, to break away. The sky is spelled out in amber, carmine, terracotta and rust smudged by tones of grey and the eye is allowed at times to sense the most erotic torso hinted at in that skyscape.

The images discovered by the observer, flash associations in the mind's eye and awaken old images lying under the dust of time. Each image in its space opens the door to another image leading to a further image and again in some works the quest seems to be coming to an end. The birds seem to fly to a glowing crystalline mountain in earth tones. When tuned to that wave length, one can anticipate the next note or change of key in the visual orchestration of the birds' flight.

This kind of hide and seek, is perhaps for the chosen few who have the power of associating freely with his or her personal history. However, judging by the reviews and comments about her earlier exhibitions held in Singapore, Malaysia, India and Sri Lanka, this 'happy few' is a wide circle of art lovers.

Admiring Anoma's paintings does not end when you leave them. The images haunt and re-echo like a melody. A voyage to be experienced by all senses.

Born in Sri Lanka, schooled in Colombo and India, her higher education and post graduate studies was at the acclaimed Central St. Martin's College of Art, London. For many years she worked as a designer selling principally in New York, with work exhibited at Contemporary Applied Arts, the House of Commons, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Liberty's of London.

Exposed not only to the visual heritage of India and Europe, she has travelled in remote parts of North Africa, Russia and Central Asia and her work shows her ability to be inspired by what moved her. Yet she did not produce the highly marketable 'Fusion-Art' or venture into flashing her identity with 'Ethno-kitsch'. In her last international solo show at Art Heritage in New Delhi, she was able to evoke a dialogue between Buddhist and Islamic art in the Indian media - highly topical, in the wake of the destruction of the Bhamiyan Buddha.

In the current exhibition, the titles are extracts from the 'Sonnets to Orpheus', the 'Duino Elegies' and the collected poems of Rainer Maria Rilke, a poet Anoma has been reading for decades. These lines of the German symbolist are the inspiration for the works, which are not, however, illustrations. Her paintings are very capable of expressing her feelings without words. Yet the lines echo moods and sentiments discovered by the eye.

Rilke, born in Prague, lived in Paris, Italy and Switzerland and was very much like Anoma, a 'citizen of the world' - a cosmopolite; and now perhaps this exhibition will be the key to his poems being reread a century later in Sri Lanka.

Anoma is not an artist hiding behind the walls of perfumed images from the past. She has come to terms with the contradictions around her.

Her art is not l'art pour l'art - art for the sake of creating art like the symbolists of Rilke's time. She is very much rooted in the crude reality of Sri Lanka. Her ability to transcend, to reach out and return to the Utopia created by her, makes her very much an artist of the 21st Century.

- Dr. Asoka de Zoysa, Department of Modern Languages University of Kelaniya

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Sri Lanka Pavilion at WTM - a combination of culture and colour

Text and pix by Chandani Jayatilleke

Sri Lanka Pvilion at the WTM London was opened at a colouful ceremony with traditional drum beats and the lighting of the oil lamp by the distinguished guests including Deputy Minister of Tourism and Investment Promotion Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka High Commissioner Faisz Musthapha, Tourist Board Chairman Udaya Nanayakkara and Tourism Ministry Secretary P. Ramanujam and several key industry representatives. The guests were then ushered into the pavilion by the dancers of the Channa-Upuli Dance Troupe through the Yapahuwa structure while many visitors thronged to witness this beautiful event.

Yapahuwa Structure made of fibre glass by renowned designer Susantha Nanayakkara was the main attraction of the Pavilion. Many visitors to WTM were seen taking pictures of this replica of historical Yapahuwa and the Sri Lankan dancers who were present there throughout the opening day. Record breaking Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan also spent a few hours at the Pavilion talking to both visitors and trade partners.

Photo page

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Monodrama by Mark Amerasinghe 
'Forbidden Fruit'

Date: November 23 at 6.30 p.m.

Venue: Auditorium of the Alliance Francaise, 11, Barnes Place, Colombo 7

By profession a surgeon and an anatomist Mark Amerasinghe's interest in the arts covers the field of singing and drama. In 1978, he embarked on his career as a narrator in Valentine Basnayake's musico-dramatic sketch, 'The Old Man' which followed by many others since then.

In recent years, Mark Amerasinghe's main interest is in Monodrama; a one-man show where he presents on stage an adaptation of a well-known novel.

On Tuesday November 23 at 6.30 p.m. at The Alliance Francaise de Colombo, Mark Amarasinghe presents his sixth monodrama, titled 'Forbidden Fruit', an adaptation for stage of his own English translation of Gide's 'La symphonie Pastorale'. In his adaptation Amerasinghe employs the device of extensive cutting, re-arrangement and refashioning of text and extrapolation; a manipulation which the scriptwriter feels could be justified textually and dramatically, while attempting to be faithful to the author's story line.

Gide's Work, first published in 1919, describes the ecstasy and agony of two tortured souls in love, played against the background of two other conflicts - a marital one and a theological one. The central figure of the presentation is a protestant pastor who falls in love with his ward - a blind orphan girl - and is torn between the desires and emotions of an ordinary human being and the spiritual obligations of a man of God. As the emotional relationship between the pastor and the girl develops, so does the marital conflict between the priest and his wife, who sees clearly what is happening, but appears to be helpless to change the course of events.

The marital conflict runs throughout the play, while, sharp doctrinal differences between the liberal minded pastor and his highly conventional son, who himself has developed an emotional attachment to the girl, surface from time to time.

When the blind girl regains her sight after a successful surgery, what had appeared to both priest and ward as an idyllic and happy relationship is shattered, and ends in an unexpected tragedy.

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Artist with a penchant to design flags

by Ariyapala Wansatilake, Kurunegala Central Special Corr.

Sixty years Yapa Appuhamilage Thejapala Yapa in Kurunegala is a well-known artist. While a student at Kurunegala Maliyadeva College, he had a natural bent for art and his drawings drew much attention. The principal was the late U. B. Wanninayake from whom he received encouragement.

Credit should go to Thejapala for designing and printing the 'Sath Korale flag' for the Kurunegala Kachcheri, the Wayamba Palath flag, Puttalam District flag and the souvenir flags for members.

On leaving school he worked as a Sub-Post Master. But his love was for art. While thus engaged, he concurrently pursued his hobby. His drawings of nature scenes drew appreciate comments from many. Incidentally, many of his paintings have appeared in magazines published in the UK and Asia.

His crowning glory came in 1957 when he had to do a large cut out of actress Rukmani Devi in the film 'Waradunu Kurumanama'. After his success he was very much in requisition as a poster artist.

The realisation came to Thejapala that if he was to gain perfection in what he was doing he had to be tutored by master artists.

With this as his goal, he left for Colombo in 1957 and joined the Fort YMBA Kala Kendra which was functioning under the aegis of M. Sarlis.

Here he met artists of repute like G. L. Gautamadasa, G. S. Fernando, Bannister Fernando and Henry Dharmasena guided and influenced by their approach to art, he made considerable progress. From another illustrious artist Danister Nandasena of Wekada, Panadura, learnt screen printing. Later he proceeded to Madras for further studies in screen printing and cloth.

During his long career as an artist he made the acquaintance of the countries leading politicians like Dudley Senanayake, Sir John Kotalawala, Sir Albert F. Peiris, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike and Sir Ukwattha Jayasundara.

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