Mr Rohan de Soysa, who is the Chief Trustee of the Sapumal Foundation, set up by one of the 43 Group of Artists, Harry Pieris, gave a scintillating lecture of the 43 Group, at the HNB Towers Auditorium on Thursday, September 29th 2016.
He explained clearly how they were formed and why, giving a brief biography of the actors therein, and firmly stamped their influence in the art during the period from 1943 to almost the present, with the last member of the group who passed away a few months ago.
More importantly the styles compared and contrasted with that of the previous influences of Mudaliyar ACGS Amerasekara’s more traditional art, allowing unique styles to develop over the years, with the most famous of them being of course George Keyt.
It was stressed that David Paynter was NOT part of this group, as many tend to wrongly include him too due his painting also during this period.
I show below some links to web sites that can elaborate on the subject better than any synopsis I may be able to add.
I was perturbed however that for such a detailed explanation of Art History of the time, that there was no representation, especially from the Department of the Visual Arts of the University of the Visual and Performing Arts that is located in the heart of Colombo. It is for those students, that the importance of the lecture would be understood, and there is probably no one as knowledgeable as Rohan de Soysa, to put it all together in one presentation, that ties all the people involved and the artists on the fringe who also exhibited at their Events.
I understand that the National Trust recorded this lecture, and I would seriously recommend that these students get a hold of a copy and watch this lecture in its entirety for a greater understanding of the importance of this influence in the Sri Lankan art scene during this period.
Finally a reminder to all about how important art is just like music and dance, in the life of a cultured Nation, and its integral role in creating a lifestyle that fulfills people's natural desires to express themselves. This will no doubt lead to more satisfaction in one's life, as well as be congruent with an improvement in the Human Development Index of a Nation, something we should NOT measure by mere numbers.
As was stressed this art should be enjoyed for its interesting and satisfying visuals and NOT an intrinsic commercial value, that is beyond the reach of all but a few!