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
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.