Sensations of the divine and spiritual
Lingam, Mantra and Buddhist chant, an exhibition of paintings by Patric
Morin is on view at the Barefoot Gallery, from Wednesday, March 20 to Sunday,
Patric Morin never received any formal education in art. He started
to paint in his late twenties after he arrived in Sri Lanka.
Born in Quimper (Brittany, France) in 1962, Patric studied English at
Rennes University and took a degree in "Tamil Language and Indian Civilisation"
from "I'Institut des Langues Orientales" in Paris.
When he arrived in Sri Lanka to study Buddhism, Patric discovered with
emotion the ancient paintings of the Sinhalese temples. The study of pre-Buddhist
Sri Lanka also led him to explore many aspects of the Hindu religion. The
world of the Hindu gods appeared fantastically attractive to Patric's mind
but it was also a new and confusing world. "I was reading so much about
Hindu gods but I was forgetting all I was reading so quickly too," he says.
In order to understand each god, to remember his/her symbols and function,
each in relation to the other gods, Patric started to draw and then later
to paint them.
He would also draw the previous Buddhas, Gautama Buddha, Maitriya Buddha,
and certain events of Gautama Buddha's life in order to fix them in his
His Celtic origins probably make him receptive to religious art, replete
with depth and spirituality. He is a great admirer of Rajasthani paintings
and the 18th-19th century Punjabi painting schools such as Kangra, Chamba
and Guler. His early works have been greatly influenced by Celtic traditional
patterns, the North West Indian forms of art as well as Buddhist temple
paintings. From the beginning, Patric developed a style of his own which,
with time, has evolved from quite a classical and traditional way of painting
to a more free and abstract though still figurative style through which
he tries to express his sensations of the divine, of the spiritual.
People see influences of Miro, Kandinsky and Klee in Patric's recent
work. When asked, the painter smiles as if to say: "Maybe but not quite
exactly!" He finally comments: "I hardly know the work of Klee or Kandisky
but I must admit that I am a great admirer of Miro. Yet I feel that I would
owe more to Indian tribal and tantric art and also to primitive art than
I would to Miro."
All Patric's paintings represent the religious, both Hindu and Buddhist.
In his Buddhist prayers and chants as well as in his Hindu mantras, Patric
succeeds in expressing the melody, the movement and the vibration or the
energy of the sounds with a rare talent through the use of both Sinhalese
and Tamil script, an unusual sense of colours and a perfect mastery of
Most of Patric's work for the past four years has focused on the Lingam
as a representation of Siva. A god that is very dear to the painter and
through whom he can express the constant tension existing within: the wish
to live the life and desires of a social man and of a householder as well
as the wish of renouncing the mundane and the world.
Patric admits that although many other paintings continuously take forms
in his mind and his heart, the Lingam has a tendency to impose itself above
Kala Korner by Dee See
How it all began with the 'vannams'
Researcher and academic Professor Sunil Ariyaratne does a thorough job
whenever he is called upon to talk about the arts. Most recent was the
keynote address at the launch of 'Lankika Sangeetaye Rohana Lakuna', released
to mark Rohana Weerasinghe's illustrious career in music.
Titling his presentation 'The fountain of tunes', Sunil traced the origin
of tunes in Sinhala music to the 'vannams' dating back to the 18th century.
What is known as 'tanama' in the 'vannama', is the equivalent to 'tune'
in English. Four letters in the Sinhala alphabet - ta, da, na & ma
- were used to denote the tunes. Folk songs too had something similar to
tunes but they were more poems. The word 'tanuwa' for 'tune' was created
by scholar Kumaratunga Munidasa in the 1940s.
More complex tunes came in 'nadagam' music and the Sinhala carols. With
John de Silva coming on the scene in the early 20th century with the 'nurti',
Sinhala music flourished.
Sunil paid tribute to the pioneers Ananda Samarakoon, Sunil Shantha
and Amaradeva for introducing truly Sinhala tunes to Sinhala music. They
were followed by a host of others including Mohamed Ghouse, B. S. Perera,
R. Muttusamy, Edwin Samaradiwakara, R. A. Chandrasena, Somadasa Elvitigala,
Premasiri Khemadasa, Shelton Premaratne and Lionel Algama.
Sunil mentioned one time Director-General of Broadcasting, Ridgeway
Tillekeratne, Film Corporation's General Manager D. B. Nihalsingha, pioneer
audio cassette producers Vijaya Ramanayake and Ananda Ganegoda for their
contribution in lending a hand to a new generation of creative composers.
In the seventies, Tillekeratne opened the doors of the radio (the only
one that existed at the time) to innovators with a host of new musical
programmes like 'Prabuddha gi', ' Nava Nirmana', Swara Ranga', 'Jana Prasangani'
and 'Swara Varna'. Nihalsingha stopped financial assistance to Sinhala
films with music copied from Indian film music. When phonograph music was
vanishing in the late 70s, Ramanayake with the 'Taranga' label and Ganegoda
with 'Singlanka' pioneered the cassette industry providing 12 songs in
He then went on to present an exhaustive analysis of Rohana Weerasinghe's
creative efforts, calling him "an exceptional artiste."
A well-researched work
Two enthusiastic young men - Ravi Siriwardena and Samudra Wettasinghe -
spent the past few months collecting articles and features for a felicitation
volume on musician Rohana Weerasinghe. It was no easy task. They have turned
out a 332 page well-printed document which, while paying tribute to the
musician of the new generation, presents an exhaustive study on the contemporary
Sri Lankan music scene.
Titled 'Lankika Sangeetaye Rohana Lakuna', it is a well-researched document
with a whole host of academic and authoritative persons writing on trends
of modern music. Most of them have used Rohana's work to illustrate these
Discussing Rohana's musical art and philosophy, music lover Dr. Carlo
Fonseka refers to his "seemingly infinite capacity to create beautiful
melodies." Rohana's creative genius enables him to supply on demand, music
of surpassing quality in massive quantity, says Dr. Fonseka and as proof
mentions that he has set to music over 2000 lyrics which have been sung
by over a hundred singers. Rohana has created music for 125 teledramas,
30 films and 25 dramas.
Describing Rohana as "a traditionalist who is modern in outlook and
musically eclectic", he sees in Rohana's musical creations that he believes
that an artiste has to be morally responsible and socially constructive.
"In the last analysis, a musical composition is the expression of the mental
and emotional state of the composer and Rohana is a humane, compassionate,
sensitive human being," he observes. "By his genius in the creation of
music he has commanded the admiration and respect of lovers of Sinhala
music, the reigning art form in our country. The exquisite pattern of sounds
generated in his mind and heart seem to me to represent in modern form,
the best in our traditional culture."
This is just one sample of the depth of articles found in the book.
The two young graduates should feel happy that they have succeeded in their
effort to produce a well compiled work covering Rohana Weerasinghe's contribution
as well as a look into contemporary music.
Rural talent bursts out in dramatic song
The outstation run of Sondura Warnadasi, an opera by Premasiri Khemadasa
and libretto by Lucien Bulathsinghala begins with a performance at the
Ruhuna University, Matara on March 26.
By Lester James Peries
It was a sad moment in the history of modern music in Sri Lanka when Maestro
Premasiri Khemadasa appeared on stage at the Lionel Wendt Theatre to confess
to the audience that he just didn't have the money to provide them with
a programme sheet. He however did say a few words about his new opera -
Sondura Warnadasi which were hardly adequate, even though the opera was
based on a popular Jataka story.
That an artiste, musical innovator and composer who had more than any
other, striven to extend the boundaries of Sri Lankan music; explored the
uncharted world of new sounds, new rhythms; attempted to fuse the best
of our folk heritage, Indian classical ragas and the western musical tradition,should
be denied patronage at a time when every cheap, vulgar initiative pop peddler
has commercial banks and blue chip companies rushing to sponsor so called
musical extravaganzas, is indeed a shocking indictment of our arts establishment.
It would not be fair to judge the production of Khemadasa's new opera
with the achievements of his previous oratories, operas and symphonies.
This is by its very nature and purpose meant to be a student production,
a showcase of talent drawn from the students of the Khemadasa school of
Practically all of them are newcomers from rural areas selected after
a two year rigorous training period. What is even more suprising is that
practically the entire cast is appearing on stage for the first time. This
is then their first appearance in a public performance. From that point
of view, it is a remarkable production.
The libretto of the opera is based on the celebrated tale of a courtesan
who falling in love with a bandit condemned to death, obtains by her overpowering
charms his pardon only to face bitter private anguish when her love for
him is unrequited.
An outline of the story gives little idea of the enormous demands made
on the principal characters - particularly Sama - (a brilliant debut by
Dilika Abeysekera) and Suviraka, Purapathi and Dhanapala Sithuthuma- all
of them I understand, appearing for the first time in roles which in terms
of not only of singing but in dramatic playing, dancing and miming demand
The music, based as it is, according to the composer, on Indian classical
ragas is both innovative and intensely lyrical - the distinctive sound
of opera 'Khemadasa's musical style'. Only a few moments show a lapse in
taste - a party dance and a song sequence which sounded like a refuge from
a film - scenes which disturb the unity of the opera's splendid musical
However I leave it to the professional music critic to analyse the work
with more critical expertise rather than my own comments which are at best
that of an impassioned advocate and admirer.
A word on the libretto (by Lucien Bulathsinhala) would not be out of
place - despite the verbal felicities, one did miss a clearer narrative
line in what is a complex tale of dramatic human emotions. In conclusion
I would advise every lover of serious music and musical theatre not to
miss Sondura Warnadasi if only as a revelation of young people from the
rural centres of Sri Lanka, discovered, nurtured and trained by the Khemadas
For this Foundation has, despite many obstacles attempted to do what
Harold Rosenthal, the celebrated music critic has said.
"For opera to survive as an art-form, the opera house must not become
a museum but remain a living theatre and therefore it is essential that
new ideas in music, in drama, in scenic design should be admitted, otherwise
it will become a stuffy, fossilised, musty repository of out of date ideas."
Don't miss this show
"Rites of Passage", the Concert featuring Alien Accent (Suresh, DK and
Ricky Bahar) will be held on March 22, 23 and 24 at the Bishop's College
auditorium. Alien Accent is the reincarnation of the trio Suresh &
Husni with DK, renowned for their songwriting prowess and groundbreaking
live performances with Ricky replacing Husni.
They first came into prominence, over a decade ago, delighting audiences
with their renditions of Simon and Garfunkel and Crosby, Stills, Nash and
Young hits. Their music has evolved over the years and is now influenced
by artistes such as Sting, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and Crosby Stills
Their ability to skilfully and tastefully incorporate local melodies
and rhythms into their compositions has been critically acclaimed especially
in Los Angeles, where they recently recorded their album Rites of Passage.
So music lovers, don't miss this show.