‘Whiskers’: An artist’s perspective of wildlife

Saturday, 14 December 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Not quite the everyday talent you stumble upon, Indika Wijewardhana is someone who puts to use his set of pencils in a very different manner. His pencil portraits are captivating and fixative to say the least; he produces precise and exquisite replications of his objects. A graduate in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Colombo, he finds outdoor activities and wildlife photography to be the soul and spirit of his existence. Apart from pencil drawing his second love would be exploring and venturing nature surroundings. Indika did his first pencil drawing, which also is a portrait of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, at the age of 13. Drawing inspiration from his father he traversed in many facets of art, strengthening his skills and gathering his tools. His journey as an artist was guided to a new path with his admission to the Faculty of Science of the University of Colombo. University of Colombo became the proving grounds for Indika where his involvement in university events as a creative designer provided a platform for realising his true potential as an artist. In his undergraduate life he experimented with materials as canvas and paper, with media as water colors and oil paint, though he found pencils as more appealing for artistic and practical purposes. Indika has an equal passion for adventure and he is determined to explore the world. He never missed an opportunity to explore the nature of Sri Lanka. He has travelled to most remote and difficult parts in the country with friends, not only in search of scenic beauty and the wild, but to live life to its fullest extent. In his nomadic life he found it impossible to carry oil paints or water colours, except pencils. So pencils and papers became a constant companion in his expeditions. He mastered his art on his own; his hyper-realistic drawings are comparable to the contemporary artists in the global arts theatre. Indika points that Paul Cadden, a significant modern hyper-realist, is an inspiration to him in defining his style. Majority of his early works consist of portraits. He states that precisely depicting the state of a human is a difficult challenge, and he enjoys reconstruction of the details of the human face and figure. Complex emotions and imperfections found in a living being make it both acute and intensive. He has successfully overcome these hardships, and the photo-like portraits of Kumar Sangakkara, Johnny Depp, Marilyn Monroe and Steve Jobs bear evidence. Indika displayed his works to the public for the first time through the ‘Passion’ exhibition organised by the Rotaract Club of Cinnamon Gardens in 2012. Above all, he adds, the satisfaction and happiness of a person receiving a portrait is the best encouragement for him to carry on his difficult yet gratifying work. He also developed an interest in photography, which enabled him to record his adventures in minute detail. Again taking the initiative with a practical approach, he photographed until he mastered the art of wildlife photography with experience. Indika turned a corner in his artistic life, when he had a close encounter with a giant leopard in Wilpattu National Park. His observation and photography of the majestic Sri Lankan leopard instigated him to recreate the moment on paper. Encouraged by the response he immersed in the prospects of this new approach with ever varying and intriguing subjects to draw. A collection of drawings and a complementary set of photographs based on wildlife can be seen at Indika’s second exhibition, ‘Whiskers,’ being held at the reputed Red Gallery of Gandhara today and tomorrow (14 and 15 December). The exhibition focuses on the members of the cat family from all around the world, hence the name ‘Whiskers,’ with portrayals and photographs of other wildlife as well.