Scaling the heights

by Gwen Herat

Poised to take his paintings around the world, he is in the threshold of scaling the heights in contemporary painting. If Kumar Ratnayaka is not the leading artist in contemporary art, he is certainly one of the top few.

Endowed with abundance of talent, his brush has no limit when it starts moving on canvas. It runs wild splashing vibrant colours in arabesque stretches but not without subtle hues that make Kumar what he is today.

I had the opportunity to preview some of his paintings in its massive collection in his studio at Pasyala and was marvelled at their parade with Kumar putting the final touches where it mattered. They were ready to take wings across the skies to international venues. Kumar has no limit to his imagination.

He is an impatient artist who tries different strokes. He showed me one massive art work done with an ekel broom and it was stunning, minutely accurate. He deliberates the use of light, shade to capture the mood of seasons as well as environment he has stored in his mind.

He may be brilliant on colour, shade and light but a contemporary artist cannot be influenced by nature because there is no method to follow. He paints within the framework of inner imagination and depth.

There is poetry in his art such as the changing seasons. There is music hidden between strokes and a language of communication, on display.

Globetrotting, this ambassador of Lankan art has suddenly leaped from his cocoon to challenge the global art scene. It is there in his spirit. There is body language when he speaks about his art. The passion in his painting has a grip on his soul. Kumar let things happen his way and they are spectacular.

If impressionism leads straight to Picasso, then contemporary to Sri Lanka’s Kumar Ratnayaka in Asia.

Being such an inspirational artist, Kumar has his colours merge into bonding lines to create visual sensation. Do not blame him for not being a ‘naturalist’ in an abundantly beautiful land like or country where one find art on trees, heavens, skies, rivers, seas, waterfalls, temples, people, water etc.

It is because he is a modern painter, seeped in contemporary skills. For instance, we cannot trace the ramifications of the movements of modern art in Sri Lanka. It just sprang up and was there for grabs to artists like Kumar.

So, Kumar Ratnayaka rests on such laurels.

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