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To be an artist of any sort is a challenge at this present day and age. Those who pursue are truly talented and work through the obstacles. Our artist in conversation today is Anuradha Punchihewa., a young, talented Sri Lankan artist who tries to express the wonder of the ordinary through paintings?

How long have you been painting?

I have been painting, learning and working as an artist for almost 20 years now. I studied art in school as a subject as well. From my young days my Father encouraged me to pursue art. At a time when most parents discouraged a career in art, I was lucky to have such support.

Who are your greatest influences?

As an artist I prefer to use styles of minimalism, surrealism and magic realism, I have observed international artists such as Piet Mondrian and Salvador Dali, and Ivan Peiris, locally. They have influenced my work to a great extent.

Did you have a formal education on art and painting or are you self-taught?

Yes, I have formal education. After school, I got the opportunity to study at the University of Visual and Performing Arts in Colombo. I consider this a great chance as I live in Hambantota which is quite far from the Capital, and in this we generally find the resources and teachers required to pursue art. Only 2 students were chosen to enter University back then. I am humbly proud to say that I was one of them.

Do you have a particular style? How did you become so passionate about this particular style?

To be honest, when I observe my paintings, I find that I don't have a particular style of art, I have not worked on developing my unique style, but more towards creating what I observe into a work of art? But I do think there is some style within those creations. I try to paint what I observe, not as it is, but in a different way. I often sway from reality, as we sometimes need a new perspective!

What are your other passions other than art? How have these passions contributed for you to become the artist you are today?

Whenever there is free time, I experiment, most often, I work with colors to see how certain mixes produce different colors? I must say, it is easy to express yourself in colors, in instances where words fail. I also read and work as a social activist when time permits; these may not directly influence my paintings, but I enjoy them.

Could you walk us through your process? Percentage wise, how much time do you spend preparing for the painting and how much time on the actual painting itself? Is preparation an important part of your process?

First of all, when I get an idea to create a painting, I research the internet about it, to see what other artists have painted, and gather information. Then I do a sketch and finally paint it on a canvas. I cannot finish a painting in a day with all my other commitments, so it takes about a week for me to complete it.

Are you engaged in new artistic adventures? How is artistic exploration important to you as an artist and to your process? How do you then decide what to incorporate into your style and what to leave as pure fun?

I currently work as an Art teacher in a government school. So, it is important to research about new styles, techniques, colors, and methods. But I chose what I incorporate into my work. It is good to be updated about what goes on outside of this island!

Was there a particular moment where you could tell that your skills had just crossed over in to being an exceptionally good painter instead of a pretty good painter? What did you do to make that leap?

Over the years, I believe I have improved. I've participated in exhibitions as well. I have represented my country at the Asian Art Biennale in 2018. I believe I have been recognized both locally and internationally as I have some talent which means I am better than what I was back then.

How do you push yourself? Do you set goals for yourself? And if so, what are those goals? Do you think setting goals is important for an artist in his/her artistic journey? If so, why?

As an artist, I don't think there is any personal for me to achieve. We currently live in a period where goals have been nullified so I'd rather not disappoint myself but do my part to create pieces of art which are enjoyable for people.

How is your experience working with Aartzy? Do you think it is a useful platform for artists?

As an artist, I have realized that our biggest challenge is that there is no platform to showcase our work. With the present situation in the country, it is not practical to expect people to visit art galleries. Therefore, Aartzy, is the bridge between us, artists, and the audience. They have been wonderful at getting our work recognized, locally and internationally. I am thankful to be a part of this platform.

You can find his entire collection through here.

Manesha Dias (2022)