Kala Pola – the iconic Sri Lankan open air art fair presented by The George Keyt Foundation in association with the John Keells Group – will be held on 23 February from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. along Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, Colombo-7.
Conceptualised by the George Keyt Foundation, Kala Pola was first launched in 1993 with about 30 artists, at a time where only the artists who could afford gallery space were in the spotlight. Since then, with the unbroken patronage of the John Keells Group over a span of 25 years, Kala Pola has steadily grown to become the most sought after local platform for painters and sculptors to meet, network and present their creations.
Kala Pola 2019 attracted over 350 artists and over 31,000 visitors. In addition, 235 children indulged in painting and clay work at the Children’s Art Corner hosted by Kala Pola. Over the years Kala Pola has helped many artists in Sri Lanka to grow their craft and showcase their work both locally as well as internationally.
John Keells Foundation is the CSR entity of John Keells Holdings PLC, the largest listed company in the Colombo Stock Exchange. While John Keells Foundation drives multiple long term and sustainable CSR initiatives under six focus areas, Kala Pola is its main CSR initiative under the focus of Arts and Culture which seeks to develop and promote Sri Lankan arts and artists towards enabling sustained and balanced social development.
The George Keyt Foundation (GKF) was established on 18 June 1988, during the lifetime of the iconic Sri Lankan artist George Keyt, to foster visual art and artists. The George Keyt Foundation has paved the way for emerging artists by providing opportunities to exhibit their work, develop their clientele and enhance their learning and networking.
Inspired by the open-air summer art fairs of Europe, Kala Pola brings the vibrance and excitement of these fairs along with an authentic Sri Lankan spin, showcasing Sri Lankan visual artistic talent to a wide array of both local and international visitors from all parts of the world. Over the years, Kala Pola has been visited by many art connoisseurs, collectors and professionals as well as students and teachers of art. Visitor access to the fair is free-of-charge.
Apart from the abundance of art available at the event, it also features live performances of Sri Lankan dance, folk singing, drumming and other local performers, making the event an art hub by showcasing diverse flavours of art in Sri Lanka. Kala Pola also helps artists to expand their horizons by meeting and interacting with other like-minded artists and individuals.
This year, the registration of artists for Kala Pola was digitised, attracting over 370 applications. Not limiting the exposure of visual art to one day of a year, John Keells Foundation also hosts and maintains the website www.srilankanartgallery.com, a digital art gallery which showcases local talent in art and sculpture throughout the year, counting over 1,000 registered artists at date.