Ranjan Aluwihare

Artist Ranjan Aluwihare employs the quote “All the beauty of life is made up of ‘Light and Shadow’!” by Leo Tolstoy in his introduction to his latest collection, ‘Light and Shadows’. As the name suggests, Ranjan’s series of watercolour works are depictions of places and buildings the artist has observed through his travels across the globe. He paints them dexterously, as he studies the way the light falls across the construction and the nuances of colour that created by the shadows that decorate the space. Inspired by his travels across the globe and influenced by his journeys to  Greece, Italy, France, Ireland, Morocco and Sri Lanka, ‘Light and Shadows’ will be Ranjan Aluwihare’s third watercolour exhibition at the Barefoot Gallery. The artist's fascination with light and shadow undeniably weaves its way through this body of work.  

Ranjan Aluwihare presently resides in Sri Lanka. In his early years prior to Architecture and Design, Aluwihare studied at Chelsea School of Art, London, experimenting with various mediums. The artist reminisces, “From the early age of 4, I could never keep a pencil down, with wonderful encouragement from my parents, eventually lead me to Chelsea School of Art foundation in London.” With his background in the study of architecture, Ranjan has created works that mimic scenic spaces and has showcased them across the world including London, New York, Germany and Sri Lanka. 

Ranjan’s third exhibition at Barefoot, ‘Light and Shadows’ plays with the sundry tones of light and darkness, and the shades in between. He uses these variations in gradients to convey depth in his painting. Each space encapsulated in this series is one that the artist has visited in his journey, deriving inspiration from places that stimulated a curiosity within him. He explained, “My inspiration of ‘Light and Shadows’ became apparent travelling abroad and fascinated how light and shadows casted on various buildings and objects, throughout the day. The elements in my painting represent how shadows can be graphically represented, to convey three dimensional form and depth.” 

The artist applies the practice of watercolour to bring out the nuances of colour, light and the absence of it, “Watercolour was always a challenge to master and unforgiving unlike oils. One can manipulate watercolour paint to a degree, though the difficulty is knowing when to stop. It is in the discipline of what one leaves out, that creates a good motif. Like any great piece of music, whether it is contemporary or classical. It is not necessarily the note one plays, but the space between the notes that enables the listener to uplift their spirits. The medium will always be my personal form of meditation too!” he explains. The works, from intricately painted overhead bridges to stark white monolithic buildings of Greece, that are enhance by a series of deftly painted staircases, his depiction of reflecting beams of light off water, are a collection that present light and shadows in varying stances at play. 

“JMW Turner, John Singer Sargent to name a few, the masters of capturing light and values throughout their work is beyond me and I am enthralled by their magical techniques,” in our conversation with Ranjan Aluwihare, we explored the collection of works that is ‘Light and Shadows’ and the intricacy and dexterity through which he creates. We find the artist’s inspiration derives from such artists whose techniques and practices he utilizes in his work. Ranjan, alongside his admiration for those artists and being influenced by their methodologies, has also studied architecture and design and employs his erudition in his work. He explains the perspective through which he observes a construction, a perceptive interpretation that begets the canvases of watercolour works that he creates, “Throughout my travels visiting special places and architecture around the world, has always fascinated me, whether a humble dwelling or magnificent acropolis in Greece played a huge part of the play of light,” said Ranjan. 

The concepts of ‘Light’ and ‘Shadow’ are also significant design principles utilized by artists of varying mediums from photography to illustration, from architecture to design. Visual artist Ranjan Aluwihare utilizes these principles fluently and applies them in his paintings to create depth and dimension, he brings his paintings alive, his canvas then becomes a window into his travels. Ranjan's paintings are an encapsulation of the spaces he has visited – the audience travels and traces his steps on this journey through which he takes them. ‘Light and Shadows’ is an ongoing exhibition at the Barefoot Gallery and will be showcased online till the 29th of August, 2021.

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24th August, 2021 Visual Art | Paintings