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DateLine Wednesday, 21 March 2007

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Guardian of Breker

The Director of the Museum of Arno Breker is a Sri Lankan:

RESIDENCE OF INTERNATIONAL INTEREST: Castle Noervenich, the museum of Arno Breker

SCULPTURE: International attention is being focussed on the late European sculptor Arno Breker (1900-1991) who was the favourite sculptor of Adolf Hitler and is now known as the Michelangelo of Germany. Controversy surrounded the exhibition in a Governmental sponsored official museum in the city of Schwerin in East Germany.

Sixty years after the end of Hitler’s Third Reich, some politicians say, one should not exhibit art of the Nazi Era, but in the first three weeks of the exhibition in Schewerin, in the northern district of the German capital, Berlin, more than 5,000 visitors came to admire the fantastic artwork of Arno Breker at the exhibition.

Germany’s younger generation find this kind of classical art very interesting and fascinating and their admiration and appreciation is not coloured by the controversies of a bygone era.

During the public controversy it came to light that the original museum of Arno Breker is at Castle Noervenich near the city of Cologne - Rhine valley - and is managed by John Gilbert Bodenstein, a Sri Lankan.

He was appointed Director, by Breker himself. His brother Marco Bodenstein, also born in Kandy is the curator for art exhibitions. He prepared the exhibition in northern Germany which ran up to October 2006.

How did it happen that a Sri Lankan is in charge of such an important Museum? “Soon after I came for studies to Germany, together with my father, I met with the Master Sculptor, Arno Breker. It was then when my family decided to convert our own castle of the 16th century to a Museum for the works of Arno Breker.

It was then that the Master himself asked me to care for the institution, it became my destiny to keep the memory of this gifted artist, for his admirers and art collectors. Arno Breker is the world’s most important sculptor of the classical tradition of the 20th century,” said John G. Bodenstein.

What does classical tradition mean? Breker’s artwork, centres on the human being as a unique creation of God. The sculptor models man and woman in their beauty. He was devoted to realistic art, as are manifested in the frescos of Sigiriya and the magnificent sculptures of the Buddhist culture in Sri Lanka.

He was given the name of Germany’s Michelangelo by none other than the art historian and famous artist, Astride Maillol, who compared the style of Breker with that of the works of Michelangelo in Italy. Millions of tourists admire every year in Rome and other historical cities of Italy, Michelangelo’s sculptures and paintings in the Vatican, churches and other buildings, said Bodenstein.

Breker is criticised over decades for his works, made in Hitler’s era. The sculptures and relief were meant for the monumental architecture of Albert Speer. Hitler’s favourite architect and friend of Breker was supposed to build a new centre in the German Capital, Berlin.

The dictator wanted the capital in his empire to be much better than that in Rome, Paris or Washington. He made monumental figures to decorate the official buildings and places in this envisioned centre of the capital.

The critics say Breker served by his art the Nazi ideology inspired by the philosophy that the Aryan race was exclusive and predominant. Bodenstein says: “We respect this opinion, but cannot agree at all with it.

A sculptor of such calibre who is able to make such great art wishes to give worship, glory and praise to God, saying thank you by singing his own magnificent. The Lord has done great things in my life, Holy is His name.

This purity of spirit in art one finds in all great religions: Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism etc and foremost in Greek philosophy. We know about Alexander the Great, who reached parts of India and conquered an empire in his epoch.

The rise and fall of the appreciation of the works of art is to be found in all civilised countries, also in Asia, yet I feel it is the duty of all human beings to preserve what we have inherited. This is the goal of the director of the museum and his wife Patricia, also from Kandy.

He said: “We have one human heritage, since we are born of one Father who creates the true, the good and the beautiful. Hence, great art resonates with the human heart irrespective of one’s language, culture and tradition and transcends any preconceived opinion or bias.”


Traditional dance at its best...

Ranga Tharanga to celebrate 75th anniversary of Mahamaya Girls’ College, Kandy:

Captivating: A night of drumming and dance

DANCE: In a location high up in the hill capital, nestled on a chalet, Mahamaya Girls’ College was born in 1932. Since then the school had shown immense commitment and talent towards education as well as aesthetic activities.

Their latest project, Ranga tharanga, a spectacular evening of traditional dance and drumming, opens another chapter in this effort.

A cavalcade of dance items presented by the Ravibandu Samanthi Dance Ensemble along with two of the school’s award-winning dance troupes will commence at the Bishop’s College Auditorium on March 23, 7.30 p.m.

This spectacular event, titled Ranga Tharanga is organised by the Old Girls Association (OGA), Colombo branch, of Mahamaya Girls’ College, Kandy, to mark the school’s 75th anniversary.

Part proceeds of Ranga Tharanga will be donated to the Lt. General Denzil Kobbekaduwa Trust and the rest will be used to improve the Mahamaya Girls’ College Dance Unit.


Vivah takes you on a journey from engagement to marriage

CINEMA: The Great Indian Wedding is back with lots of traditions and family bondages. Sooraj Barjatya’s Vivah is an ideal recipe for those who are hoping to set out on the journey from engagement to marriage.

NASCENT CHARM: Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao as Prem and Poonam in Vivah

The belief, sincerity and conviction that he displays in Indian traditions, and the nascent charm of lead-pair of Shahid Kapoor - Amrita Rao, melts your heart and you end up humming Ravindra Jain’s melody Mujhe Haq Hai with a smile.

Prem (Shahid Kapoor) respects his father, rich businessman Harishchandra (Anupam Kher) while Poonam (Amrita Rao), the prized possession of her chachaji, Krishnakanth (Alok Nath), comes from a humble background. He is a city-bred boy from Delhi while she is a homely girl from Madhupur near Mathura.

Their love germinates after their engagement at her simple North Indian house. Poonam cares for him becoming his inspiration to become someone on his own. Prem reciprocates her love in a touching moment in the later part of the film and it’s worth a gulp in your throat and handkerchief-friendly-moist-eyes.

Now screening with English subtitles at the Regal and Milano, Kegalle.


Murals on verge of destruction

PAINTINGS: These murals depicting the historic procession conveying the Jathaka story book chronicled during the Kurunegala kingdom at the Ethkanda Raja Maha Vihare are fast deteriorating due to lack of proper attention. The colourful murals adorn the prison building wall near Kurunegala clock tower junction were earlier protected by a canopy.

Over the years the canopy had decayed leaving behind only the iron beams exposing the murals to the elements. The murals were drawn by A. B. Seneviratne Bandara former director of art, Wayamba province and his pupils.

residents have expressed surprise over the lack of interest by authorities to conserve these murals.



‘My Oasis of Silence’ at Goethe-Institute

PHOTOGRAPHY: The Goethe Institution, in collaboration with the Embassy of Switzerland and the Photographic Association of Sri Lanka, is holding a photographic exhibition titled “My Oasis of Silence” by the participants of the workshop with Beat Presser, Swiss photographer. The exhibition will remain open at the Goethe Hall, until March 28 Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.


Music competition

MUSIC: The Sinhala perennial favourites music competition organised by the Kelaniya Vijaya Kalayathanaya to select a team of vocalists for its musical group, Peduru Saadaya Kandayama will be held at the Kalayathanaya premises on April 2 at 9 a.m.

All those who have sent in applications are requested to be present.

Further information could be obtained from No. 60, Waragoda Road, Kelaniya. Telephone 2915596.


JICA photo exhibition at the Public Library

PHOTOGRAPHY: An exhibition of photography organised by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will be displayed at the Public Library, Colombo, from March 22 to 25.

These photos display the development activities carried out by JICA in various parts of Sri Lanka captured in the camera in different perspectives by the renowned photographer, Lal Hegoda.

This exhibition will give an understanding for Sri Lankan people on the the ODA activities which JICA carried out in the past 25 years and will disclose the Japanese context through photography.


Robin Zebaida to perform in Kandy

MUSIC: The celebrated British pianist, Robin Zebaida will give an exclusive piano recital of important works from the classical to the contemporary repertoire in Kandy. The programme includes works by Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Grieg, Fauré, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Gershwin and Godowsky.

The concert will be presented by the Kandy Music Society in association with the University Arts Council at the E.O.E. Pereira Theatre, Engineering Faculty, University of Peradeniya on March 23 at 6.30 p.m.


‘Burnt Castles and other paintings’ in Badulla

PAINTING: Wasantha Kumara’s 27th exhibition of paintings, ‘Burnt Castles and other paintings’ will be held from March 24 to 26 at the Senerath Parana Vithana Library hall, Badulla.Some people lead a luxurious lifestyle, enjoying delicious food and drink, travelling in comfortable vehicles and living in enormous castles.

But in a moment we hear screaming and see a heap of debris and scattered pieces of flesh here and there. Ultimately only burnt castles remain. Dream castles collapse within a few seconds and unexpectedly death will come and take us. This is the artist’s theme.


‘Film Festival 2007’ to celebrate Women’s day

CINEMA:The Women and Media Collectives has organised a film festival to celebrate International Women’s day. Deepa Mehtha’s Earth, Nigel Cole’s Calendar Girls and Margarethe VonTrotta’s Rosentrasse will be screened at the Russian Cultural Centre from March 26 to 28, 3.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Villa Lavinia - Luxury Home for the Senior Generation

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