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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

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Vapi: a visual tribute to Sri Lankan ecological wisdom

An exhibition of Karunasiri Wijesinghe's drawings and paintings on ancient tanks in Sri Lanka December 15-18 At the Lionel Wendt, Colombo.

Vapi is the outcome of two years' gratifying work of the versatile artist Karunasiri Wijesinghe. The themes of his art throughout have been the natural environment of Sri Lanka and here he has focused on the reservoirs built by our forefathers, which constitute an organic part of our environmental heritage. The artist would sit by and gaze at the tank, this magnificent centre of ancient Lankan civilization in visual meditation. Vapi is its bountiful harvest.

The query within our artist's mind has been: why are we enchanted by these gigantic water bodies and waterways?

Water is the basis of life on earth. It is a water-sphere. Seventy percent of human body consists of water. So does plant life.

Today, at the forefronts of latest findings in science, the connectivity of water to the life energy is being established. Now there are indications that the secret of life lies hidden in water. Recently, a physicist in Japan, Masaru Emoto was engaged in a series of researches to prove this hypothesis.

He discovered that water has the power to store data and that the human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water. In other words, he discovered that water exposed to human thoughts could either pollute or purify it, in accordance with the nature of such thoughts.

Probes into various facets of the water usage by our forefathers show that they were somehow aware of Emoto's recent discoveries. As evidenced by legends and folklore relating to the tanks, wewa for these people was a mysterious and an august entity.

The Tamils as well as the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka identified the incumbent god of tanks as god Aiyanar or god Aiyanayake respectively. King Mahasen who built many reservoirs including Minneriya tank is known as 'Mahasen Deviyo' or 'Minneriya Deviyo' among the Sinhalese. Seated by the ancient reservoirs, Karunasiri Wijesinghe would listen to the breathing of celestial and other mysterious beings known in ancient legend and lore. The beautiful and awe-inspiring water plains converse with him in mysterious tones.

As you view Vapi, you may come across a number of reservoirs - Kalawewa, Nachchaduwa, Minneriya, Tisa wewa, Balalu wewa - you may gaze upon these out of the ordinary images in wonder. In fact you would feel that you are viewing not mere copies of the visuals of these reservoirs but the images of the artist's secret conversations with them.

 

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