A MILLION DREAMS
Art Exhibition Swendrini Gunasekara
Most works of art are statements, conveying truth through the artist’s perspective. What does the artist want to say? Where is their message coming from? An artist skilfully uses the language of art to communicate his/her thoughts to the viewer through their art while providing a platform to inspire and be inspired. Swendrini has been drawing, painting and sketching for as long as she can remember. She first showed her work at a group art exhibition when she was 14 years old, as a student of Ms. Lathifa Ismail. Her passion for art was rekindled by the constant encouragement she received from her father, who had always believed in her talent. She studies art under Ms. Rhuani Rambukwella, who is a firm believer that art is accessible to all who have a passion for it and are willing to learn. Under Rhuani’s guidance, Swendrini has slowly begun to find her own style and steadily built a portfolio of paintings and sketches. She draws and paints whatever inspires her, be it landscapes, wildlife or nature, using whatever medium that calls out to her in the moment, be it ink, charcoal, watercolour, acrylic or oils and this is her story:
Q: WHY DID YOU WANT TO BECOME AN ARTIST?
A: Becoming an artist was not actually a decision I made, but rather a road that I enjoyed travelling down, from a very young age. After a break of almost 20 years I picked up my brushes and palette this year and it has been truly wonderful getting back into painting. So, I believe it was not really a conscious decision of becoming an artist, but rather a fulfilling of a destiny.
Q: HOW DID YOUR JOURNEY IN ART BEGIN?
A: I know that I was scribbling, drawing and painting as far back as I can remember. As a child I used to spend hours custom drawing all my birthday invitations. I loved creating Christmas cards, birthday cards, and even drawing diagrams in my school books. So, the journey really began many moons ago, and it is only in the very recent past that I have begun to realize how important this journey is to me.
Q: WHAT WAS THE FIRST WORK THAT INSPIRED YOU AND WHY?
A: My first real inspiration in any serious form of art was when I started studying it as a subject in the school curriculum. This curriculum covered traditional motifs, design, historical buildings and structures of ancient Sri Lanka in-depth. Therefore, I think Sri Lankan history and culture have really inspired me. I love exploring temples and studying the structure, design, construction and every other aspect of these beautiful buildings. Local culture and island life have been very influential and inspiring in building the collection I am preparing to showcase.
Q: WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS A ROLE OF AN ARTIST?
A: I think there are many roles an artist plays in society. To help the world see things out of the norm. To highlight and bring out the beauty that lies dormant in the most mundane things around us. And sometimes artists are also historians, because they happen to document and reflect the time period and society around them. But most importantly I think an artist’s role is to be able to bring a smile, create a sense of joy and awe through their work.
Q: WHAT INFLUENCES YOUR WORK OF ART?
A: Everything around me inspires me. It changes from time to time and moment to moment. A drive by the ocean, a fiery sky at sunset, a serene temple against a clear blue sky, flowers, birds, nature and of course the female form, which I think is one of the most beautiful and artistic designs of all time.
Q: WHO ARE THE ARTISTS YOU ADMIRE AND WHY?
A: I love the work of most Renaissance period artists. I love detail in any form of work, and most of their work is full of amazing and fascinating details. The detail in Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, Botticelli's Birth of Venus, Michael Angelo’s Creation of Adam, Raphael’s Sistine Madonna can capture your attention for hours on end. I feel that each time I view them, I am able to interpret the work in a whole new way, such is the detail these artists put into their work.
Q: AS AN ARTIST, WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT TO SAY TO THE AUDIENCE THROUGH THIS WORK?
A: This collection has a lot of variation in terms of subject matter, styles and mediums used. As I was picking up where I left off after almost 20 years, I didn’t want to restrict myself to any one theme or medium. Instead as conveyed by the title of the exhibition, I have captured a Million Dreams in oils, acrylics, water colour, charcoal and even ink and wax crayon! What I really want to do is invite the audience to see beauty, light and colour in everyday things that surround us – the idea that nothing is mundane. Everything has the potential to amaze and inspire.
Q: WHAT IS THIS ARTWORK ABOUT AND WHAT DOES IT QUESTION?
A: The artwork is about finding beauty in things you see every day. It's about not waiting to visit the world's most scenic place or the top of the highest mountain or the threshold of an amazing landscape in an exotic land in order to dream. It’s about turning things, places, people that surround us on a daily basis into a fantasy... an artwork...a dream. It challenges and questions the covers we unknowingly perhaps, wear over our eyes in day to day life.
Q: WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR WORK?
A: The inspiration behind my current work and portfolio are my everyday dreams. Contrasts of colour, juxtaposition of form and an amalgamation of textures.
Q: CAN YOU SHARE THE CONTEXT BEHIND YOUR COLLECTION?
A: The context behind this collection is about letting go of any and all restrictions. Opening oneself up to a thousand possibilities, and a Million Dreams!
She is preparing to show her work, together with her nephew and young artist Eyan Pereira, at an exhibition titled ‘A Million Dreams’ at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery from the 28th to 29th September 2019.
ARTRA is Sri Lanka’s Art Magazine exploring curated content on Sri Lanka’s visual art, performance art, applied art and written art. Launched in 2012, ARTRA Magazine is a compact monthly art read providing a comprehensive understanding on Sri Lankan artists, art events, monthly art calendars and the Sri Lankan design landscape. In sum, all you need to know about art in Sri Lanka.