11th March 2001

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Bold colours of fragrance

By Hiranthi Fernando

Bright, fresh and invigorating, the lemon yellow dominates the canvas. The vibrant colours and skilled brushwork seem to leap out at you and hold your gaze. On a closer look, you find traces of medieval temple art designs emerging through the bold contemporary themes depicted on the canvas. The whole presents an aura of joy and cheerfulness.

Even to one uninitiated into the mysteries of modern abstract art, Kingsley Gunatillake's paintings have a compelling attraction. Born in Wadduwa in 1951, he has been painting for over 25 years, holding several exhibitions and winning many awards. His current show at the Paradise Road Galleries, Alfred House Rd, Colombo 3 continues till March 28.

Of all his achievements, one he considers most important is his assignment to restore the doors and ceiling of the Dalada Maligawa, damaged by the bomb blast.

"It was a great challenge for me," Kingsley said. "Painting a new ceiling to look like the old, involved much research. I read books, researched old patterns and visited several old temples. Finally I was able to visualise the structure. It took about 18 months to complete the paintings.

"When I was asked to repaint the doors, I thought of a pattern and was most excited to find later that the same design for the doors was featured in a book by Nimal de Silva."

His work at the Maligawa, Kingsley says, has had an effect on his recent paintings. "When I worked at the temple, I constantly heard the sound of drums and smelled the fragrance of the floral offerings. That is how the predominance of lemon yellow came into my recent paintings," he explained. "I connect the colour with the fragrance of the flowers offered at the temple."

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