Rasika De Silva explores “Nature and Culture for Our Future” in his latest exhibition at Sky Gallery

Saturday, 11 May 2024 00:10 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Rasika De Silva, now renowned as one of Sri Lanka’s most captivating contemporary artists, unveils his latest exhibition, “Nature and Culture for Our Future.”

A showcase of paintings that explores the inseparable connection between humanity, nature, and culture. This will be his 11th solo exhibition and is presented by, ‘Sky Gallery’ of the Fareed Uduman Art Forum. 

Born in 1967, Rasika De Silva studied art at Kandegoda Maha Vidyalaya, Ambalangoda and went on to Sharadha Kala Nikethanaya in Colombo to complete his Diploma in Fine Arts. After his A/Ls, having come to Colombo for employment, he gradually began to paint. He had a few teachers who taught him the finer points in painting, among them, both Joe Dambulugala and Anura Handunnetti influenced his paintings a lot. A printer by trade, he retired recently after a long stint at Aitken Spence Printing to pursue his love for painting.

Rasika’s art is mesmerising. Amalgamating symbolism, primitivism, and surrealism, while drawing inspiration from ancient paintings like those found in Altamira, Lascaux, Ajanta, and Sigiriya. In all of his paintings, Rasika skilfully portrays the inseparable connection between humanity, nature and culture and the tragic consequences of mankind’s attempts to disrupt this spiritual bond. He also explores the repercussions of this rupture, inviting viewers to contemplate that delicate balance between mankind and the environment.

If life inspires him to draw, loneliness inspires him to colour, guiding him to mix, blend and merge the colours for hues and tints that are unique to him. He says he has drawn his best during difficult and turbulent times in his life. Those moments helped him express himself better than other periods in his life. He firmly believes that the creativity that comes through pain and suffering, is often more honest than anything else. It is nature that mostly inspires the imagery in his paintings and helps him to express his inner most feelings. Rasika is of the view that the camera creates a challenge to the artist but he overcomes this obstacle by not drawing the visual but painting his thoughts and his feelings. He simply says, “Colour is the language I use to express my feelings.”

Rasika requires a lot of sunlight and quietness when he paints. He works slowly and often changes his technique when he needs to think back and re-draw. He believes his style of painting is best suited to oil on canvas as he uses many blended colours and different imaginary shapes. The non-glossy depth of Oil paints appeal to him because it takes time to dry giving him the flexibility to change as he goes along. The feel of acrylic paints is opposite to oil paint in feedback from the canvas. It dries faster than oil paint so making major changes on the go is limited. But he uses these two mediums alternately as relief from the tedium of slower drying oil paints to faster drying acrylic paints to come back refreshed to oil paints. He also likes to experiment with mixed media and watercolor even though the time factor can be restrictive and enjoys working with printing ink and the palette knife.

In a piece written in 2021, Seniya Ariyananda provided an insightful analysis of Rasika’s work: “Rasika has always demonstrated this ‘poet’s freedom’, and moved from a personal vision to a broader, global one; he seems now to be contending with the relationships between man, the weapons he builds, and nature, among other things. In a more local sense, yet in keeping with the expansive vision he has created, he contends with the island mentality in Sri Lanka, taking on such issues as conflicts within social strata. His technique or style further reflects this by not being easily definable, drawing from numerous manners of painting, stretching from surrealist to the abstract as it works for the discovery of Rasika’s subject.”

“We are at a critical juncture in our relationship with the natural world,” says Rasika De Silva. “Through my art, I aim to shed light on the interconnectedness of humanity, nature, and culture, and to provoke meaningful conversations about the legacy we are leaving behind.”

“Nature and Culture for Our Future” is a thought-provoking journey and invites viewers to contemplate the delicate balance between mankind and the environment. Rasika De Silva’s art serves as a powerful reminder of the repercussions of our actions and urges us to reflect on the path we are paving for future generations. Art enthusiasts, environmentalists, and cultural aficionados alike are invited to experience this unique blend of tradition and innovation.

“Nature and Culture for Our Future” will be up at Sky Gallery, 65/9 Kirula Road, Colombo 5 from 17-19 May, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the transformative power of art in confronting the pressing issues of our time. 

Visitors must be aware that there is a stairway to climb up to the gallery.