- A permanent exhibition for the Fareed Uduman collection
Nestled high amidst the treetops of Kirula Road, Colombo 5, Sky Gallery of the Fareed Uduman Art Forum showcases his entire range of paintings, cartoons, and poems. This will be a unique permanent exhibition that also comes with a promise to share this space with aspiring or struggling artists.
An art forum in the true sense of the word, the gallery will be declared open on 9 December by art connoisseur Malaka Talwatte who will thereafter talk about the artist.
Fareed Uduman’s son Jomo had a burning passion and dream to create a space to display his father’s entire collection as a permanent exhibition for the benefit of all art lovers now and in the future. Sky Gallery is the result.
Fareed Uduman was quite an extraordinary man. During his lifetime he painted dozens of startlingly original, vibrant, and (at times) surreal paintings that were untitled, undated, unsigned, and unframed. He painted on hardboard, plywood, or on any other material he could lay his hands on. He nailed these to the wall and painted beautiful pictures that nobody really understood. Some even had paintings on both sides.
Most of them ended up behind cupboards and doors, cobwebbed, dusty, and forgotten. Pieces of his life, heart, and soul; the unquenchable fire that raged within.
The only legacy Fareed Uduman left behind were his paintings, discarded, forgotten, and abandoned by all, with the exception of his son Jomo, who single-handedly retrieved, protected, restored, named, and worked with them, throughout these 37 years after his demise. Jomo has held four posthumous exhibitions and also published a remarkable coffee table book. All these efforts brought his father to the forefront and limelight of Sri Lankan contemporary art.
Uduman was somewhat of an enigma and often an embarrassment to most of his family and friends but remained a zealous non-conformist right until the end. He called himself a humanist, an atheist, a communist, and a rationalist. Essentially an urbanite, he rarely ventured out, so most of his paintings seem to be manifestations of experiences and images captured in the city.
In or around 1971, The Nation, an LSSP weekly, ran a cartoon competition, which Uduman won week after week and was finally retained as its cartoonist. His cartoons are also presented in this gallery and show his remarkable awareness of local and world politics and his (obvious) communistic leanings. His other writings were penned in a fat, blue monitor exercise book from which 10 poems he had written during his lifetime emerged. These give us a glimpse into his private world.
Jomo says that this final tribute to his father comes with sadness. “He never was recognised for his art, his profound love, and what he stood for in his life. Nobody reached out enough to free him, but he selflessly reached beyond all parameters to free people from pain, to shield the weak from the strong, and to offer his bruised shoulder for anybody to lean on. Now, Sky Gallery of the Fareed Uduman Art Forum will without doubt bring his spirit alive again.”
Sky Gallery of the Fareed Uduman Art Forum will open to the public at 65/9, Kirula Road Colombo 5, from 12 December 2022. Entrance will (initially) be on weekdays only from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special viewing can be arranged for students and groups. Contact: 0777329596.