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December 21, 2017

Senaka Senanayake: Art Inspired By The Rainforest

Text by Huzan Tata. Image courtesy of the artist and Saffronart

An exclusive sneak peek into Sri Lankan artist Senaka Senanayake’s latest exhibition of paintings, presented by Saffronart

How many artists can claim to have held their first international showcase in New York City at the age of 10? Senaka Senanayake, one of Sri Lanka’s most prolific painters, has achieved this feat, and one look at his canvases can tell you why. Capturing the beauty of nature in all its glory, they bring the rainforests of the world to life. Senanayake, who believes that our forests are ‘spectacular and irreplaceable’, takes two to three weeks to complete a single canvas, adding layers of paint to create the required luminescence and depth in each work. Viewers will be treated to new works by the artist at an exhibition in the capital that, once again, highlights his fascination for the world’s flora and fauna, while drawing attention to their rapid decline.

The artist, whose creations are part of several public and private collections, has been commissioned for works by the White House in Washington DC as well as the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Senaka Speak

On his eternal inspiration “I have always been interested in nature, having spent many holidays visiting the protected parks of Sri Lanka. About 15 years ago, my cousin, an environmentalist from Ecuador, took me to the rainforests of Sri Lanka and showed me their beauty and value. He then informed me that we had lost more than 70 per cent of our rainforests, mainly due to the growth of cash crops and food cultivation. But Sri Lanka, being an island, it needs them to induce rain. I decided to use my skills as a painter to enlighten the public about our crisis. By highlighting the beauty of rainforests, I was able to bring about awareness. As we all have only one world to live in, I decided to create images from rainforests of the world and make my project international.”

On subjects he loves painting “Initially, it was my country’s people and traditions, followed by my experiences in the jungles of Sri Lanka. Buddha’s life story and the rebellious age as a student at Yale University was the next stage. And of course, the global issue of destruction of rainforests.”

On appreciation “I consider myself a people’s artist. Many artworks are totally ignored by the average person. I would be disappointed if it happened to me.”

As a viewer “My house is full of my own work done over the last 60 years. At museums and galleries, I gravitate towards works by impressionists, cubists, and colourists.”

Looking forward to “Continuing with my rainforest theme, and also doing some work on endangered coral reefs.”

The exhibition, presented by Saffronart and Grosvenor Gallery, London will be on display at The Claridges, New Delhi from January 12-24, 2018.

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