23rd January 2000

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

The Sunday Times on the Web


There's rage and outrage

A new visionary turns theosophy into art

By Carl Muller

One supposes that Theosophy did spawn its own revolution in the world of art, but the thought forms of a young man who will exhibit at the Alliance Francaise, Kandy, from January 28 to February 5 is a new spawning, surely.

Amaresh Pereira is one of the intense young. Maybe he moves in his own bioenergetic cloud world, all made up of a sort of marmalade of vibrations and emotions and colours and, yes, agitations. He could be an angry young man too, given the visionary provocation, and, looking at his paintings, I saw both rage and outrage and realised, to my own sorrow, how flawed true emotion is. There is affection, but tinged with pride; and how complex does this affection become when it carries its own selfishness, jealousy and sexual passion?

Amaresh Pereira may castigate with his brush but the trick is to reach him in his colours and forms. There is so much hate in black, avarice in the clear browns, red anger, and that dull brown-gray vomit for selfishness. You can wallow in the depression of heavy gray or find anger in the lighter tones, but - and here's salvation - there is also the religious blue, the crimson and rose of affection, the deep orange of pent-up feeling and the intellectual yellow.

If it is believed that artists need to be forged in pain and physical havoc, Amaresh has had his fair share. As he says, he was never the competitor. In school, art was a hit-or-miss affair, unapplied even in his most creative moods because "my first art teacher was an old crank who looked on us boys as a persecution full stop. I nearly dumped art for good because of him. Happily, he went away and Mahinda Somasiri took his place, and he was a wonderful man. He taught me all I now know; and I don't think it was just teaching and learning. It was a sort of energy flow and I was the force-centre. You get the feeling that Catherine Wheels are spinning inside you."

Amaresh was never really serious. "Actually, all I had to show in my school career was the Distinction I got in O Level art," but he simply drew and drew and then came to realise that despite being plagued with sickness, he could make his art shout loud for him. "I suppose, being a dyslexic, I react and am influenced by pain and grief. For a long time I had to find myself and I think the turning point was when I was placed first in a replicate painting competition at the Alliance, Kandy. It was then that I got pretty earnest and began to make my thoughts my pictures."

There are fiery arrows of uncontrolled anger in his depiction of the Karmic force that kills the killer. The whole picture holds what is surely the lurid glow of active hatred. The M-60 spits its seeds of death, near astral in its explosiveness, and the head of the slayer also explodes. "I needed him to execute himself. I am always angry when I see injustice. Like so many, I am sometimes held prisoner in the edifices of control. Now, I have found a way to break free. I paint."

Amaresh admits that he wants to give his thought forms to society. He feels he has a message. But it has taken him three years to prepare for this, his first exhibition and "the journey to the starter's line" as he says, was no easy one. But he had true friends and much guidance. He mentions his teacher, mahinda Somasiri and Dr. Ashley Halpe (who, with wife Bridget will open the exhibition on the 28th), his brother Prasad and others who, through their own eminence in their fields became towers of strength, founts of inspiration. Amaresh has a selection of portraits too-his "idols and influences" - people who commanded his admiration. Among them you will find his grandfather, Daniel Gnanamanikkam, brother Prasad (much the dreamer too or is it the deliberate wistfulness given him?) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and somewhere the characters merge. The exhibition in itself is an inquiry into the questions that assail us, and as we allow its effect to wrap around us, we hesitate to mouth an answer. Is this interpretation physical or spiritual ....... or is it all a young painter's private war, private rebellion?

The symbolism is seemingly commonplace, then mystic. Like his two guitars. "I started making guitars when I was 15. Just a hobby. Of the two that I have, one, the 12-string, the other a six-string cutaway will be part of my compositions." Thus does Amaresh offer his own view of self and society. Fretboards become life's ladders and the fret markers each carved in floral designs, become the figures of all callings with their aspirations, all in their places on the ladder while the wing on the box shows life's resonance, the beating of the living, not the ineffectual flapping of those who simply exist. The six-string, he says is the cutaway that is a friend who died. "What is cut away is what is missed, but the higher frets remain that he may still play among them. And yet, it is so typical. When we think of those who have left us, we see them in the surroundings we are familiar with, not in the higher planes they are called to."

The ravages of the war and the agony of the children affected by this mindless slaughter are not hard to miss. Amaresh found this litany of blood and tears in the music of Bach, of Rehman and Ramstein and the heavy metal of such resounding, rebounding exponents as Icetea and Machinehead. He admits to much influence of music and film, finding strength in the Chemical Brothers, Prodigy and Too Unlimited, in Spielberg and George Lucas, in the clash of light sabres, in Maniratnam and Martin Scorsese. He found and uses his brush to translate the riches of the Bible, the philosophic vigour of de Chardin, the empurpled rings of the Tao.

One two-part painting tells, rust-bloodedly, of the massacre of Amparai where, over the fallen, a coconut palm bursting with its yield of ammunition, uses its roots to gorge on the blood of the victims. A child hugs the skull of a skeleton Sri Lanka and its eyes are crazed with non-understanding. Perhaps what is most compelling is the sorrow, the anger, at the assault on the Dalada Maligawa. It is so true that religion, all religion, be it what it may, recoiled at this awful show of brutality. Here, then, are the bleeding outstretched hands of a crucified Christ, His eyes weeping, the Man of Sorrows, the pain so real while the Maligawa spews the flame clouds of its terrible desecration. There is a cosmic onenesss here, and it tells us of how right hearts will always beat as one.

Amaresh has tried to give us the maelstrom of his mind and this will take some understanding. His triptych marries the images of war-torn vistas, the great pollution, with the reality of nature in the spread of its God-given glory. It does remind me of a recent observation made in a "Discovery" programme on the vermin of the earth. They came in waves- the Black Death of the rats, the roaches and the killer bees, the flies and the insects with disease in their mandibles. And yet, the world suffers its worst infestation - Man himself!

The concepts are not abstract. Rather, they unnerve and startle and the atmosphere is that of unseen thoughts and is as non-objective as the picture of the child soldier finding himself among the barbed wire and the bursts of shrapnel. The tension is there and there is also a sort of synthesis where the senses overlap.

It seems that Kandy has a rising Kupka in its midst - a young man who plunges his brush into the baseness of life to give us that uneasy feeling of being snared between the mystery of being and not being. An exhibition that is going to run fingers down one's spine, and, who knows, we may know where dreams end and reality begins.

Or is it the other way about?

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