Stroking to life her imagination

Ruki Wijeratne holds her first exhibition of paintings in Sri Lanka
By Shafraza Muzammil, Pix by Saman Kariyawasam

To her, painting is like meditation - time is of no consequence while she’s at her easel. Painting is a world by itself, she says. Ruki Wijeratne has been painting for 21 years and loves the colour that comes with just being in Sri Lanka.

Her initial exposure was when her Art Professor Pavel Kobel made her go to the library and read and learn about the Renaissance period when she was studying in Switzerland in 1987. She then furthered her painting skills in Paris and Manila and in 1994 held her first solo exhibition at the World Trade Centre in Geneva.

In her forthcoming exhibition ‘Splendour in Colours’, Ruki displays 42 paintings. This is her first solo exhibition in Sri Lanka, since she came here about ten years ago. She has been studying under Prof. Sarath Chandrajeewa at the Colombo Academy of Arts since 2004.

Ruki prefers figurative art and most of her paintings are dominated by faces expressing diversity and ethnicity. Facial expressions are the most difficult to capture in a figurative painting but it is satisfying once you do, she says, adding that there is a vast difference in the colours she’s using since she came to the island compared to when she painted using the pastel, calm shades of the Renaissance period.

She sets apart a day each week for her painting – spending her time at the Sapumal Foundation painting sans any distraction or talking to other artists.

Along with the 42 paintings, she is also displaying a painting of Bougainvilleas that she did especially for her house. It is also the only painting which had taken about seven- eight hours to finish - normally she finishes a painting within four- five hours.

Sometimes she takes different pictures and puts them together before painting it to see how it would look but most of the time she relies on her imagination. Once she has a subject in mind she prefers to sit down and finish it at once and watch it come to life with her brushstrokes.

Ruki Wijeratne’s paintings will be on display at the Harold Pieries Art Gallery of the Lionel Wendt on January 18 from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

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