(Photograph by Nisal Baduge)
In the wake of a sweltering hot afternoon, we meet artist Vikum Bandara a few days before the preview of his upcoming exhibition titled "SOUL", presented by The Paradise Road Galleries. The following interview provides an insight into the life of a humble individual actively focused on the modern art movement in Sri Lanka.
Tell us about yourself.
Born and raised in Balangoda, I was first introduced to art while reading for my Advanced Levels at the R/Balangoda Ananda Meithreey College. Thereon forth, I decided to pursue a career in art graduating from the University of Visual & Performing Arts with a BVA Special.
What is abstract art to you and how do you approach it to create a story on the canvas?
Abstract art is beautiful and an alluring way to express myself, as I enjoy churning out paintings with colour rather than shapes and lines. With this powerful medium, anything and everything including life, soul and emotion can be expressed. I maintain a strict theory to neglect what is expected from the conventional and work on the canvas freely. Although I use modern methods, I'm careful with my selection of colour to evoke a sophisticated, classical and more expressive art.
122 cm × 96 cm - mix media on canvas
How has this medium shaped your perception of the world?
I identify abstract art as a great modern achievement; depicting human emotion on a wider spectrum. Attempting to freely incorporate an inner-sentimental (physiological) aspect with rebelling brush strokes has enabled me to keep it progressive.
What colours best represent human emotion in your work?
I make it a point to select my spectrum quite rationally preferring to play with earth tones and various shades of green from the palette, as I feel these are natural and helpful enough to express an idea more easily. Each colour takes precedence in my work as an articulation and thus conveys.
Describe your work routine. How much time do you devote to your craft?
Early in the morning or a late evening would do. As an artist, it's important that I work around a peaceful backdrop in order to link abstraction with emotion. That's the rewarding part about this medium. Its process is meditative.
Poetic abstraction doesn't claim a clear narrative but is ambiguous in its own way. How do you find this challenging as an artist in Sri Lanka?
Modern Visual Art as an universal heritage, best reveals the inner aspects of human condition. Abstract art, as a concept, is nothing new to the audience. Most stakeholders including artists like myself are well-informed with abstract art including strokes and techniques. Now a consummate master of this medium, I stick to its ambiguity in giving nothing out directly to viewers. Rather, I disrupt a conventional expectation to entice perception with observation. Practically, I know that the educated public admire abstract style very much. So, this isn't a big challenge for an educated artist.
140 cm × 118 cm - mix media on canvas
Tell us, what are you trying to accomplish with your upcoming exhibition titled "SOUL"?
The exhibition "SOUL" is a soulful immersion of the contemporary man for the contemporary man. Here, I'm seeking to introduce a psychic perception about the world we live in through an artistic medium that can aptly represent with a twist. I'm hoping the audience are enlightened with what has been put across.
Any future plans that you have in mind and want to share?
Truthfully, I plan to continue working with thematic implications in the hope that it reaches widely as much as I believe this journey with art is not only a personal experience, but also a universal one. I'm interested in learning more about visual art, for the spirit of art, remains perpetual. There's an ambitious hunger to enlighten more and more people the world over.
The exhibition at the The Paradise Road Gallery will remain open to the public until July 20.