‘Gypsy Splendour’ Nature, personal and fantasy | Sunday Observer

‘Gypsy Splendour’ Nature, personal and fantasy

28 March, 2021

Nihal Senarathne, is not a familiar name in the arts fraternity, rather he is an ‘outsider’ who was able to open-up his inner broken childhood dream to become an artist by accident.

He was born and raised in an average middle-class family amidst much hardship. During his childhood, he read borrowed ‘chithra katha’” papers and tried to replicate the characters from the stories, which were his only get-away from the day-to-day chaos in life.

However, many years ago Nihal wanted to study psychology and got the chance to attend Senior Counsellor Indrani Wijesundara’s art therapy classes where he discovered that painting is a great source of relief for many questions in life. That life changing encounter also brought out his vivid imagination. Although he had no formal education in art, he learnt to explore his imagination fearlessly and was able to find his own style in art.

“I was introduced to artist Anoma Wijewardene and got the opportunity to study under her for a short period of time, and it was her passion that encouraged me to pursue what I loved most,” Nihal said, recalling his primary encounters in the field of arts. He continued with Anoma’s group of students, participating in several group exhibitions and a few years later he was able to publish his first-ever short story - ‘In the Corner of My Love Life’ with the Equal Ground Organization.

‘Gypsy Splendour’ is his second solo exhibition now on at the GLF until the 3rd of April.

This is an interview Youth Observer had with Nihal about his journey in the field of art.

Q: What’s your background?

A: I don’t come from an artistic background or have a formal education in art but, I draw everywhere on whatever I could find. When I grew up; just like all the other children I had forgotten about my art. It was later in life I rediscovered my passion, and haven’t looked back since.

Q: Through your recent exhibition ‘Gypsy Splendour’, what do you aim to say?

A: I try to showcase the beauty of life and sometimes with a comical undertone. It stems from my imagination and delusions. I start by digging into the personality or situation of a subject. I try to explore lesser noticed aspects of the subject in my mind and bring this to life.

Q: Do you consider contemporary socio-political conditions to your artwork?

A: No not at all, I don’t believe or support any current political movements in Sri Lanka. My works are more related to nature, personality and fantasy.

Q: Who are your biggest influences?

A: I am inspired by the eroticism and use of mixed media by Gustav Klimt and the vibrant idiosyncratic style of Niki de Saint Phalle. The world is open for everyone through the internet and we can see the other artists’ work, from Europe to Asia, and I learn a lot from them.

Q: How do you seek out opportunities?

A: In Sri Lanka, there are very few opportunities for painters and we don’t have developed platforms for upcoming artists to exhibit and only a very few of them get the chance to exhibit in galleries. Most of them give-up after sometime due to hardship and the insecurity in this career. I chased opportunities by myself because I wanted to continue my career as an artist.

Q: How do you cultivate a collector base?

A: Most of the time by social media and through my exhibitions.

Q: How do you navigate the art world?

A: It depends on the socio and economic situations and the future is always a question mark in this career especially in a country such as Sri Lanka where only actors and singers are considered artistes.

Q: How do you price your work?

A: I am not an established artist and rather than the price I consider the client circle and creating a name for myself. For the past couple of years I have sold many paintings but I never look back and have no regrets and most important thing is to survive as an artist in this difficult situation.

Q: Which current art world trends do you follow?

A: I follow any new trend in contemporary arts with my freedom to express my feelings and I am always willing to try and experiment new styles.