Once in a blue moon, an artist is born, one who challenges the norms, goes beyond the ordinary and creates masterpieces? One who fights every day to perfect his talent and make known his talent throughout the world. Our artist in conversation today is none other than Anura Srinath, a talented, realistic painter from Sri Lanka. He is a rare breed of artists whom we should treasure. Let's take a journey through his colorful lenses!
How long have you been painting?
I started painting during the years 1989/1990. My father used to paint as a hobby and I believe I was influenced by him. When I first started and tried out my hands at art, I knew I had the talent. It was a matter of improving myself, which I eventually did. At one point I was a story writer, then a cartoon artist. It has been a journey with several difficulties and triumphs which have molded me to become the artist I am today and for that, I am grateful.
Who are your greatest influencers?
Back in the day, cartoons and comic strips were quite famous in local newspapers. I followed other artists who did similar art and developed a liking towards this type of creations. I didn't copy anyone but developed a style of my own. Apart from this, as I mentioned previously, my Father was my first influence.
Did you have a formal education on art and painting or are you self-taught?
I did not study art professionally. I am a self-taught artist. I think, maybe if I did have the opportunity to learn art, my journey would have been different.
Do you have a particular style? How did you become so passionate this particular style?
I am a realistic painter and I paint acrylic on canvas. My transition story is one which must be told! At first, I began as a comic artist at an advertising firm. Then I joined Upali newspapers and subsequently JWT. There was an art exhibition at which I saw several painters and studied their art. I experimented and improved myself. I was then identified as a cartoonist. But I no longer agree with that definition. I have moved on to become a painter and a portrait artist. I have had 20 solo exhibitions throughout the country since 2012 to 2018.
What are your other passions other than art? How have these passions contributed for you to become the artist you are today?
My hobbies are watching movies and listening to music. I haven't been able to go to a theatre in a long time due to the pandemic and this is something I really miss. In my thinking, movies and music help me relax and divert my attention elsewhere. When I come to back my paintings, I am refreshed and filled with new ideas.
Could you walk us through the 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?
If someone gives me a reference it makes things easier for me but if not, I research first, gather as much information as possible and then get to work. I take about a week to prepare, make my sketches and if there is a client, get their approval. I created a painting titled "No more war", it was a collection of 2nd world war air crafts from around the world. I included 100 air crafts in the painting. You can imagine the amount of research I had to do to complete it. Seeing this, the Sri Lankan Air force wanted me to do a painting of their crafts as well. This took me 8 months. I am a perfectionist and I try to achieve perfection every time. It is not about the money but I truly enjoy what I do and I want my creations to be something people will talk about and remember.
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 you leave as pure fun?
I am always keen on learning. And I learn something new every day. I go on to the internet and search for new techniques relating to art and the new developments which take place overseas. Even though I am a realistic painter and don't plan on deviating from this at present, it is always interesting to see what goes on in the world of art.
Was there a particular moment where you could tell that your skills had just crossed over into being an exceptionally good painter instead of a pretty good painter? What did you do make that leap?
Well, I don't think I can say I am exceptionally talented myself, it would be boasting. My clients have however told me that my paintings are really good so I guess I am good at what I do. For example, the HNB calendar icons are drawn by me since 2006, I am currently working on their calendar for next year. The reason I have been able to secure it for the last so many years is because they like my work. My paintings have been purchased abroad and are also placed in prominent locations in Sri Lanka. I don't think I should speak highly of myself, I let my work do the talking?
How do you push yourself? Do you set goals for yourself? And if so, what are the goals? Do you think setting goals is important for an artist in his/her artistic journey? If so why?
It is very important for all of us to have goals. As an artist, I believe our target should be to create perfect art. We cannot consider money or costs when It comes to creating exquisite work. Goals keep us on track and focused. My present goal is to do a painting of the world and for the next few months I will research and work on this concept.
How is your experience working with Aartzy? Do you think it is a useful planform for artists?
My partnership with Aartzy began almost 3 years ago when Janaka visited my house. This platform is a brilliant idea as you know there is no market in Sri Lanka for local artists. I believe I will speak on behalf of many other Sri Lankan artists when I say that we are grateful be a part of Aartzy. I know Janaka and his team and genuinely focused on promoting our work. I want my art taken overseas and become someone people talk about in the years to come and this platform will help me reach my goal.
Anura's art can be purchased via https://www.aartzy.com/artist/anura-srinath.
Manesha Peiris (2021)