Saturday, 11 January 2014 10:56
Kala Pola has certainly helped many artists reach great heights in their career. To highlight the experience of their journey, The George Keyt Foundation featured few artists at a media event held this week in Colombo, to tell their story.Jagath Ravindra
First I would like to extend my gratitude to the George Keyt Foundation for supporting us artists. I was one of the 35 artists who participated at the very first Kala Pola. It was through this event that international artists came across my work and invited me to participate at exhibitions in their country.
When I participated in the first Kala Pola in 1993, though I would like to say it was a great experience, it wasn’t. Kala Pola in a literal sense is about displaying art in the pavement and this idea was not well received by artists back then. In fact, few were even angered by this. Many senior artists criticised for trying to be a part of the event. They thought it was degrading to the profession, bringing your greatest efforts to the streets.
I looked at this an experiment, and saw this as an opportunity to showcase my talents. I was happy to display my work to people, since I thought if they found it difficult to come to me to admire my work, let me take my work to them and create that interest. That was an opportunity for me.
I met many people, and many senior artists such as Tissa Ranasinghe who praised my work. This motivated and encouraged me even further. This I think is important, to be encouraged to continue, and the Kala Pola is a window for that.
Kala Pola is truly a great platform, but it is the responsibility of artists to make use of this opportunity to move up in life. They must put in an effort to continuously improve their techniques, talent, method, artistic mind, and qualities. It’s a two way effort.
Kala Pola is definitely an event that is one of a kind. I say this not only because of the plethora of opportunities it offers to us artists but because it brings together creative minds without discrimination. Last year we saw many attempts of discrimination to the minorities of our country. At Kala Pola artists are not recognised as a Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, or Christian artist. It recognises every individual with a creative mind as an only an artist. There is no ethnic discrimination.
I am looking forward to meet and interact with all my fellow artists. Kala Pola serves as an ideal platform for artistic minds to share their knowledge, expertise, and experience with one another, and for this we are grateful to the George Keyt Foundation.
I come from Kandy and for that I am considered an artist from the outstation since basically everything happens in Colombo.
I must admit that when I started it was very difficult for me to be a professional artist, and it was my participation at the Kala Pola that helped me become who I am today. All artists dream of creating a piece of art that would last for ages. And once that is achieved, an artist eventually stops interacting since they are lost in their own creativity.
One thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that art is a collaborative medium. In terms of thought process there is a spectrum of people in society. Artists are more or less the light that comes out of the spectrum. However, for the spectrum to work all the seven colours have to be there. For art, we need people to appreciate and citizen, but people also need to promote us. One thing that is disheartening as an artist is that when we put in a lot of effort in our work, most of the time we are not appreciated.
People valued the vision of George Keyt and the work he did revolving our culture. Thought he was educated abroad, he even knew Sanskrit and that too he showed in his art. He recreated our values and style of living in canvas.
Every year those who admire George Keyt and see his vision gather at Kala Pola. I understand that with difficulty senior artists are brought to one platform. Artists in Kandy were wrongly told that senior artists will be given all opportunities at this event. However, when I came for some years back it was uplifting to witness the amount of respect shown to all artists. There was no discrimination.
I have been for many corporate events where I have tried to sell my paintings but ended up going home singing the lost lover’s song. At Kala Pola that was not what happened. At this event I made a lot of friends, built a lot of relationships that has help my build my career. I see as a group that we are growing strong. At the age of 21 a child is allowed to independently step into society. With Kala Pola going on for 21 years, we artists are also doing the same.