Vesak exhibition of paintings
Presented by the Sri Lanka
Presidential Secretariat and the Gangaramaya Vihara, Hunupitiya Colombo
from May 27th to June 5th 2010 10 a.m. onwards
On the occasion of this year’s Vesak Celebrations, the Gangaramaya
Viharaya at Hunupitiya Colombo in association with the Presidential
Secretariat of Sri Lanka, is presenting a comprehensive Exhibition of
Buddhist Paintings of Sri Lanka. It is Vesak that takes Buddhist
paintings and other works of art to the people in the street. The
traditional Vesak thorana (pandal) has been the fundamental method by
which this is done, with the depiction of episodes from the life of the
Buddha, Jataka tales and stories of the history of our nation. The aim
of such Buddhist cultural activities during Vesak is to evoke serene joy
in people enabling reflection on the virtues of the Buddha.
A visual pilgrimage
This exhibition of photo images of Buddhist paintings will take one
on a visual pilgrimage of many viharas and historic sites with exquisite
paintings, providing an overview of the overflowing richness of our
nation’s cultural tradition.
In parallel will be the presentation of a documentary film with a
considerable amount of information on the nation’s traditional paintings
serving as a resource for those interested in learning more about this
excitingly rich visual cultural heritage of our country. These paintings
reveal vividly the richness of imagination, creativity, artistic sense
and inspiration of our artists, past and present.
Found in thousands of Buddhist temples all over the country, Buddhist
paintings reflect a wonderful integration of aesthetics and
spirituality. The photographic work presented at this exhibition is the
result of in-depth study of ancient paintings produced on different
surfaces or planes. The photographic method has been used to identify
and highlight spacial aspects and segments of exquisite ancient Buddhist
paintings that are of outstanding artistic quality and aesthetic appeal.
The exhibition presents as selection of about 450 photographs of
paintings that adorn a diversity of viharas and historic sites including
those designated by the UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
These paintings are associated with a period that exceeds 2200 years,
from 3rd Century BCE to the 21st Century.
Included are paintings found on a diversity of surfaces, such as
ancient cave and rock surfaces, walls including relic chamber walls
inside stupas, ceilings, statues and related structures, on doors and
other wooden surfaces including ‘ola’ palm-leaf manuscript covers,
pirith mandapas, clay and earthenware, and on textiles. Paintings
featured reflect varied art styles, approaches and traditions.
Exhibits will be accompanied by narrative scripts outlining the
history and major distinguishing elements of works produced in different
period of artistic traditions in the country. The themes of most
paintings highlight the life, previous lives and teachings of the
Impact and expectation
Visual presentations of this nature are bound to bring about
increased awareness and appreciation of the richness of our cultural
heritage and should be of particular interest and significance to our