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
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
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.