Alex is back to delight

By Adilah Ismail, Pix by Saman Kariyawasam

If you haven’t seen airborne tuk-tuks, angels hauled up in baskets, monkeys atop traffic lights or elephants under beds, be prepared for a whimsical journey at Alex Stewart’s latest exhibition. Born in the North of England, the self-taught artist hails Sri Lanka as his second home and has been a regular exhibitor at the Barefoot Gallery since 1995. Stewart, also a therapist and a DJ, exhibited at the Colombo Art Biennale which concluded recently.

“People inspire me,” says Stewart whose watercolour and gold leaf paintings explore aspects of everyday life interwoven with themes of human interaction and spirituality. His paintings are heavily influenced by his fondness for Sri Lanka, and provide a unique perspective of the country as perceived by a person of a contrasting culture.

Rich in colour, an interesting aspect of his work is the manner in which the painting escapes formal limitations, and does not confine itself to a rigid boundary.

With mosquito nets, table fans, flower garlands, plastic chairs and umbrella lovers-the paintings represent bits and pieces of typical Sri Lankan life which otherwise go unnoticed. Delightfully detailed, down to the motifs on an angel’s saree to the pattern on a woven mat, the paintings, Alex says, are mental snapshots of what he has experienced.

“With filters of time and distance, images begin to form. The stories take on a life of their own, becoming almost mythical but still fragmentary.” Alex Stewart’s paintings are now being exhibited at the Barefoot Gallery, till October 18.

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