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Expressions 14

Smiling faces, people at work, expressions of joy and silent countenances, vintage structures of yore frozen on paper are compelling. The paintings demonstrate the character of Jayantha Silva, an artist whose work is a representation of reality.

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Moving away from the tradition of abstract art, Jayantha’s masterful strokes at painting depicts human faces in everyday situations. Painted with such exactness, his work makes one wonder whether his protagonist was truly standing before him until he finished. His realistic style captures people in many moods; in the midst of work, in rapture, in moods of silent blankness; smiles uncovered in the eyes. The work is completed with vividly inspiring frankness and vibrant colours.

Strongly aware of his surroundings, Jayantha produces real-life images of everyday situations and people he even encountered in the past. His is an art that is honest.

“I have a photographic memory, and images of people I come into contact with remain in my mind for years. Therefore, more than half of my paintings are of people who I have encountered at some point in my life or may have even seen in a movie. For example, the stooped figure of a woman, a visitor once said it had been copied by me and although I did not realise it, this was from the Swan Lake, one of my favourite movies that I had watched as a youngster. The images are deeply etched in my mind. Others are images invented in my imagination,” he says.

As a figurative and portrait artist, Jayantha captures the human body as it is. He drew his first nude figure at the age of 10. Although he was recognised for his artistic talent as a child, Jayantha did not pursue painting for most of his adult life. His first solo exhibition ‘Expressions’ in 2003 was a journey he embarked upon. One where children and the elderly are the central characters in illustrations that he describes as distinctively Sri Lankan. “Our smile is unique. My paintings of people are an expression of our hospitable personality”.

Although Jayantha doesn’t focus his art on a particular theme per se, there is nevertheless history surrounding them. His portraits in charcoal are intense as are his drawings of colonial buildings and ancient Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. Inspired by the varied human expressions and encounters, Jayantha brings them to life in the stillness of the night cut off from human contact. Having never studied art, Jayantha believes he is a natural artist. For him the experience of painting is similar to meditation; a relaxing and soothing experience.

Jayantha Silva will showcase his creations at Expressions 14 on May 5 – 7, 2017 at the Lionel Wendt. Nearly 60 paintings in charcoal, acrylic and pastel of people and places will be on display. The exhibition will be open to the public from May 6 – 7, 2017 from 10am onwards.

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