Laki Senanayake

Laki Senanayke is a well renowned artist who infused his creative senses in a painting, sculpture, architecture, screen printing and batik. A jack of all traits one may call him, is truly an inspiration to those who hope to impact many artistic spheres. Laki, who was born in 1937, belongs to the generation of artists that emerged in the 1950s. He has worked with many opinion leaders in the local art scene including Geoffrey Bawa, Ulrik Plesner, Valentine Gunasekara, Ena de Silva and Barbara Sansoni.

Q l When did your interest in visual art and sculpture begin?

A l I used to paint since I was three years old. Fortunately, I did not go to any art school to study art. I believe, art should be fun and not something you do within the technique based on study. In fact most people who study art, do not paint after they leave school, which is rather ironic.

Although I did experiment with sculpting since I was very young, my first metal sculpture was something I did for Bawa at Lunuganga. We used to spend every weekend there to discuss mad ideas. During that time, a welder used to come and fix the gutters. One day, I had some free time so I thought it would be fun to learn how to do welding, and in the process, I took a piece of metal and made a sculpture using welding. That was my first sculpture, which I gifted to Bawa, and the beginning of my intense passion for sculpture.

Q l What inspired you to become an artist?

A l I would not use the term inspiration, because inspiration implies that one needs to wait, I on the other hand was not ‘inspired’ in that sense, I just drew. I did not wait for ideas to come to me, I painted whatever interested me.

As a small child of three to date, I was and still am interested in birds, rock trees, and the sea. I would capture them in my paintings, sculpture and other creative work. This is why I live in my abode in Diyabubula, that is surrounded by nature in the midst of wild.

Q l What do you think is most vital to an artist?

A l A practice of drawing, I believe. Most people think technique is what makes a work of art perfect, however, I feel that it is not the facility in your hand, but the ability to see, perceive and pursue beyond the surface.

Q l Tell us about your involvement with the book ‘The Architecture of an Island: The Living Heritage of Sri Lanka’?

A l Ronald B. Lewcock and Barbara Sansoni were drawing old buildings and they wanted me to do the visual aspect along with the measuring of the building. Bawa taught me how to accurately measure the old buildings. I did 90% of the drawings for ‘The Architecture of an Island: The Living Heritage of Sri Lanka including all the plans and the measurements – a compilation that spanned for 30 years. We would spend nearly every weekend visiting old buildings and even then, we were not entirely convinced that people would buy the book, and now, there are four volumes of that book. It is like the bible for students of architecture. 

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31st May, 2021 Visual Art | Paintings