- Holds retrospective exhibition ‘First Journey’ at the Lionel Wendt
By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
S.H. Sarath held his first art exhibition along with a friend in 1972 at Lionel Wendt Art Gallery, when he was a student of the Government College of Fine Arts, and looked back at his artistic journey in the 50 years since, with an art exhibition titled “First Journey” at the same venue from 18 to 20 November 2022.
Lionel Wendt Art Gallery is significant to the artist because it is also where he held his first solo exhibition in 1974. S.H. Sarath has held over 25 five solo exhibitions at the same venue, and has held over 100 solo and group exhibitions in total, which include those held in Sri Lanka as well as overseas.
“I titled this exhibition ‘First Journey’ in memory of my first exhibition at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery. I had artwork from the 80s in my collection, as well as work that shows the changes in artistic styles over time, so that people can observe this,” he said, adding that he no longer has most of his older work, as these have been purchased by various collectors. This includes President Ranil Wickremesinghe and his family, who have supported S.H. Sarath over the years.
So has former President Chandrika Kumaratunga – S.H. Sarath said Kumaratunga purchased his work when he was still a student. Author Martin Wickramasinghe’s family has also supported him over the years.
“The ‘First Journey’ collection consisted of line drawings, oil paintings, and acrylics, and it is the first two media that I mainly work with,” S.H. Sarath said.
He added that while the exhibition looks back at his five-decade journey with the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery, his artistic journey itself exceeds 54 years, when he joined the Government College of Fine Arts in 1968.
He also had the opportunity to study in Thailand from 1979 to 1980 at the Silpakorn University of Fine Arts in Bangkok, from where he gained a lot of experience, being exposed to new techniques as well as many notable artists.
He also made special mention of Chalermchai Kositpipat, the owner and designer of Thailand’s Wat Rong Khun, or White Temple, who stayed in Sri Lanka in 1980, studying Sri Lankan architecture, sculpture, painting, and Buddhist temples. Chalermchai Kositpipat was influenced by the white statues and temples in Sri Lanka, which is what led to the construction of the Wat Rong Khun. In 1980, Chalermchai Kositpipat held a solo art exhibition at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery.
Photos Eshan Dasanayaka