The saga of Segar

ART: A living legend and an inspiration to the struggling Sri Lankan painter, Segar will throw open his plush, new gallery to local painters while maintaining his exclusive paintings on a permanent basis.

The Segar Gallery will replace his residence at Horton Place when he moves out and make it a landmark for local paintings, thus giving a helping hand to up-and-coming talent of our country. It will take the shape of an endless dream of a spot for those in search of display.

An expansive artist whose objects are limitless when he picks up his brush to paint, his favourite mediums being oil-on-canvas and watercolours apart from acrylic.

Segar applies a new development towards abstraction that is challenging and conventional. He is a painter whose variety of forms are designed to manifest his inner feelings and through this development of abstract art, Segar is positive about his indefatigable endeavours.


He has created his own language in forms to express the inner spiritual visions. These he simplifies. He leaves nothing for imagination in the critic's eye but behind a perfect facade, Segar continues to refine each stroke that makes his paintings so immaculate.

TEA PLUCKERS: Oil on canvas

While he attaches great significance to form, he distances himself from nature drawing. Segar declares he is not influenced by any master but somewhere I remember a Kaninsky painting titled Improvisation, may be in the Gallery at Munich which I visited years ago that had a semblance to Segar painting.

One could call Segar a poet in paint (perhaps carnatic-classical). There is a feel of music in his women; in their suppleness of limbs and the doe-eyes that spew rhythm. But, then one has to study his art deeply before comprehending them. It evolves around his identity and signature.

I can pick a Segar from a distance because his art separates him from most painters of the day who tend to paint on the same subjects common among them. He is a sensation in India where he has his permanent collection in Bangalore. The same ardour has caught up in many countries he has live' galleries of his paintings.

Segar is the lover of the female form and there is no doubt she is a cross between Indian and Sri Lankan. Or is he trying to convey the message that we all are Aryans. The theme of the chaste woman is symbolic. There is no unwanted nudity and he is out with sexism.

As a manipulator of strokes, he has no control over the brilliance of fiery shades defined lines and bright bold, contrasting colours. I have always felt that Segar was a connoisseur of conservatism and the philosophy with which he produces his art is found in abundant quality.

Though with limited subjects confined indoor, he explores their realm to dazzle the sternest critics. Segar in the process, has created his own art and is the master of their creations. Blessed with the power of modern dissonance, he is articulate with eloquence.


Depending on figurative cubism, he incorporates this theme with care not to over run its effect in order to retain the figures in whole. Profuse and demanding at one point, drifting away and lets his brush takes its own course, Segar is a dynamic artist.

A milestone in his career was when the Reader's Digest published his painting in the back-cover in February 1998, a rare feat by any painter from around the world. But Segar never wants to talk about himself but his art, a simple, humble academic, vested with many talents.

A hundred years hence, his paintings will be hailed as masterpieces from the Asian region and the art historians may go still further and call him a Sri Lankan impressionist and his visual arts had sought compromise between what they saw during a hundred years.

Segar paints for tomorrow and he sees a rainbow at the end of it. There are rainbows in his paintings, occupying a back stage but with a mission that they will surface when the time is ripe. Till then, Segar paints.


In art, we never had formative years, true enough, there were temple painters and even artists who carved out the figures of Sigiriya in resplendent colour but something is very vague as to when, where and how the technicalities of art were found. We can rediscover many paintings of our royalty in history but no significant collection has ever been assembled into a gallery, centuries bygone.

So, the doctrine consisting of technical consistency was slowly being explored by the Sri Lankan painter some decades ago and an influx of great painters like George Keyt, Soli Mendis, Motagedera, Senaka Senanayake, Iromi Wijewardena, Segar, and many others splashed their innovations on the palat. Their brushes brought to life 'modern' visions with passionate delight. We find some of their murals on temple walls and hotel arcades etc. Sri Lanka painter had arrived.

But will he be sustained for the future?

That is where the State must come in to collect a heritage for the future. What we see today must be seen by our generations centuries to come.

With a painter like Segar who does not need history or mythology to paint, he goes beyond such inspirations to capture the still life of Sri Lanka on canvas. He need not search the mysteries of the East nor the nature in her full glory. Being a figurative painter, he revolves his subjects in cubism and visual impressions.

He has never been false to visual reality but paints with a logical impressionist technique. Figures of religious leaders take on a different dimension and the subtle colours and strokes used on such subjects, surface the sanctity. The very modern English painter, Peter Lanyon reflects some of Segar's concepts in paint.

I wish there was someone who could trace the ramifications of Sri Lankan art and attempt to define the boundaries of passionate influence and space that finally rested on the present artist.

With a rich cultural heritage and history, also blessed with tremendous, vibrant environment that is a dream in the vision of Sri Lanka painter, he should have taken more positive strides much earlier.

Among these who are directed towards this mission, Segar stands out in earnest. His permanent exhibits are found presently in Sydney, London, Mumbai, Banaglore, Colombo and Kandy.


<< Artscope Main Page


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Sri Lanka


Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor