Conflict, chaos and then beauty

Q&E Advertising Art Director Udaya Gamachchi gives his unique touch of mixed media creations to their 2010 calendar
By Thushara Kulatunga

“No conflict, no drama” said George Bernard Shaw implying that conflict was something that was inherently a part of man and necessary for the progression of the world. You may or may not agree with the great man, but it’s certainly food for thought.

When well-known marketing communications firm Q&E Advertising chose to explore this idea as the concept of their calendar for 2010, the creative side of it fell on one man- Udaya Gamachchi, their Art Director.

Traditionally, this would be a task that the entire creative team would have taken up but this year it was to be a solo effort by someone whom the agency regards as one of their brightest. The result was six pieces of mixed media artwork that expressed his thoughts on conflict.

In a world where digitally manipulated visuals are commonly used especially in the field of advertising, old school illustrators such as Udaya are considered a dying breed.

It would even be quite difficult to find an art director who could sketch a simple still life without digital assistance. Udaya’s skills in illustrative techniques assure that his clients are able to explore the limitless possibilities that exists in illustration. Yet, as Udaya explained he was not that fond of art as a child, in fact quite disliked the subject in school.

Most of what he knows is self-taught, and his inspiration as an artist comes from his desire to learn and explore new things. “I would say that my affinity to art grew when I got into advertising,” said Udaya. “I’ve worked at Q&E for 10 years and I’ve been in advertising from before then. In advertising you have to deliver what the client wants, so there’s less room for creative expression So for me, my own art is an escape from what I do as an artist in advertising.”

He also added that the design of the calendar however is something that the creative team always has control over and something that they always make maximum use of to express their creativity.

“Conflict has been the prime engine of change, driving the development of human societies and the evolution of art.” This is an excerpt from a passage written by Udaya on the first page of the calendar. “If you look at everything around you, you will see that everything begins from a conflict. The creation of the universe was a result of conflict. I feel that every creation is a result of a conflict,” said Udaya, adding that even though the act of conflict itself is an unpleasant thing, it usually brings forth something beautiful.

The first piece in the calendar titled, “Out of cosmic chaos, the earth bursts forth in beauty” is Udaya’s expression of the creation of the earth. This idea is portrayed by a chaotic-looking sky and a clear, detailed image of a tree rooted deep in the earth, implying that order is a result of chaos.

The rest of the calendar portrays the result of conflict on different levels. While the first artwork talks of cosmic conflict, the second one titled, ‘Lifelong struggles for the benefit of others’ is an expression of Udaya’s belief that every good thing that humanity experiences is a result of those who constantly break barriers, question prevailing ideals for the good of mankind. This is portrayed by a messy display of pieces of wood and wood shavings splattered with paint and a fully built, colourful chair popping out at the top of the canvas.

The artwork continues in this vein portraying different grades of conflict and how it brings about something positive. The sixth and final piece titled ‘Heart and mind combined to create an unparalleled world’ looks at the inner conflict that Udaya says rages within all of us. “The way to achieve inner peace is to strike a balance between heart and mind and darkness and light, which can only be realized by conflict.”

Udaya is thankful for the support he receives to give rein to his creativity. “I have complete freedom to do what I want and I’ve always received a lot of support and I’ll always be grateful for that.”

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