7th May 2000
Front Page
Editorial/Opinion| Business| Sports|
Sports Plus| Mirror Magazine
The Sunday Times on the Web

Like father like son

By Ruhanie Perera 
Upasena GunawardenaUpasena Gunawardena was a child artist and a good one at that. Yet, the support he got for his work from his father was minimal. "When I won a world class exhibition for children, a photographer came to my place to get a picture of me, and my father threw him out." Despite the objections and hurdles, Upasena never gave up his dream - the dream that made him the recognised artist he is today. 

Madhava Priyanath GunawardenaGoing full circle much later, Madhava Priyanath Gunawardena started to peep into his father's art classes and mess around with paints. The soul of an artist in the boy was blossoming and crying out to be nurtured. And here was a son who got all the support he needed from his father to pursue his dream to become an artist. A son who would follow in his father's footsteps and someday carry on the work so that their art would flourish.

Together Upasena and Madhava are a team. The father knowing of the struggle involved when pursuing one's dreams, is wise. The son, is always ready to help, for he knows that a little bit of support can make all the difference. Both want to learn more, so that they may serve their country through art.

"My son is never satisfied with his work," laughs Upasena, "just like me. He feels that satisfaction breeds complacency and that will never make you a great artist. Criticism is important for improvement for nothing grows when kept in a vacuum. "Even now as a well-known artist, visiting lecturer at the Institute of Aesthetic Studies and teacher to about 800 students, he still reads up on the subject. 

"Art is a language," says Upasena. "An international language that will be heard wherever one goes. But, for people to understand, you must be a master of the language. Masters are made through years of learning. You need to study your field thoroughly. I don't believe that art can be self-taught - medicine, engineering isn't, so why art?" 

Believing completely in this theory where "whatever one wants to pursue as a career must be learnt thoroughly", Upasena gave his son the best education that could be given. And so Madhava was sent to India to study art at the 'Chantini Kethana' - the College of Fine Arts in India. "He never learnt from me. I could never get him to stay in one place", and as if to prove the statement Madhava struts up and down, never stopping to sit. "Learning art seriously, in a way disciplined him."

There is nothing Upasena wants more in life than to see his son following in his footsteps. That dream is almost complete. Madhava will finish his last year of college and be back in Sri Lanka next year with a Bachelor of Arts degree to take on his father's work. "I never forced my son to learn art. He was always painting from the time he was a child and I helped him. To learn the subject the way he has you must have some interest." 

One of Madhava's paintingsFor Madhava, his father's support has been the guiding light. "All I want to do is follow in his footsteps."

Upasena feels he should organise an exhibition to promote his son's work, for as he puts it, "I'm not going to live forever, it's time he came forward". 

This father-son exhibition of paintings will be held at the National Art Gallery from May 9 to 11 from 10.00 a.m. onwards.

Upasena's paintings are those that have grown over the ages. Madhava's are fresh with much Indian influence and scenes from daily life, which fascinate him. "Each painting is precious," says Madhava, "I don't think I could ever part with any."

Index Page
Front Page

Sports Plus
Mirrror Magazine


More Plus

Return to Plus Contents


Plus Archives

Front Page| News/Comment| Editorial/Opinion| Plus| Business| Sports| Sports Plus| Mirror Magazine

Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to 

The Sunday Times or to Information Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.

Presented on the World Wide Web by Infomation Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.
Hosted By LAcNet