BEAUTY AND THE ARTIST
"Add beauteous art, which brought with us from heaven,
Will conquer nature; so divine a power
Belongs to him who strives with every nerve.
If I was made for art, from childhood given,
A prey for burning Beauty to devour
I blame the Mistress I was born to serve".
- excerpts from a sonnet by Michelangelo
The font of Tilake's Art is to be found in the lush green fields and forest glades of the
Village of Karatota in the deep South where he was born. The salient features of his
Art are simplicity and economy. Simplicity of form and economy of means used to
bring a canvas to life are again derived from the unwritten philosophy of the Sri Lankan
Villager, rooted as it is in the Teaching of the Thathagata. The softer hues which
are his stock in trade are almost Zen in their subtlety intense in expression - like
a Chopin Nocturne, but without being nocturnal.
Tilakes' myriad canvases are a celebration of life itself, an "Ode to Joy" in
a Sri Lankan manner. Consequently absent from his canvases are the battles and
stresses of everyday living which artists who thrive on themes are so fond of
depicting. His paintings are instead permeated with begins of ethereal beauty, more
often than not in the feminine incarnation. How such idealized femininity stems from
a man's creative mind is as beyond our ken as to how Tolstoy wrote Anna Keranina.
Yet these canvases which shout for the sheer joy of living have oftentimes been created in
spite of dire personal tragedy, like Schubert's music. There is no trace of anguish
in them as one finds in Van Gogh's paintings or the last symphonies of Tchaikovsky.
Tilake's paintings are also highly original. They bear no stamp of allegiance to
any other artist, living or dead, and he has no "ism" to describe his
work. His work emerges from the well springs of the inner self, - from the need to
create. He works without compulsion and certainly dislikes commissions, although
compelled to do so at times for a living. But even in commissioned work he insists
on a free hand. Tilake's paintings are simple and direct, like Shelley's
poems. They really do need no titles either.
Tilake paints from an inner Compulsion to Create and calls his Paintings his
"other' children". This I think in the core of a true Artist. This
Festival is a Celebration of his Art; His legacy to Generations to Come.
Tilake Abeysinghe, internationally reputed painter and sculptor is a graduate of the
Academia di Bella Arte de Brera in Milan, where he studied painting under 'Domenico
Cantatore and came under the influence of the world renowned sculptor Mario Marini.
After graduation from the Academy he held exhibitions at art centers in Italy and
Switzerland and established his own Atelier in Milan in 1980.
In a professional career spanning over 40 years, he has held over 70 one man
exhibitions and has represented Sri Lanka in several International Exhibitions.
Besides Italy and Switzerland, his work has been exhibited in Sao-Paolo, Montreal, New
Delhi, Bangladesh, Fukuoka, Pakistan, Paris, Peking, Copenhagen, Hamburg and London.
His major works include a large mural and a 25 foot high sculpture at the Italian
Embassy, a mural 82 feet long spanning the entire breadth of the Standard Chartered Bank
building in Colombo, large mural in bas-relief at the American Express Bank in Colombo
(since destroyed by a bomb blast), a large bronze statue 10 feet high at Giranduru Kotte,
life size statue at Rahula College in Matara, a bust of Sri Nehru at the Indian High
Commission, Colombo, and several large paintings, portraits, and a 12 foot sculptured
monument for the Central Bank in Colombo.
Tilake Abeysinghe has been awarded several accolades during his long carrier.
Among them are, Gold award at the Japan Sri Lanka Exhibition in 1993. The Kalapathi
award of the Sri Lanka society of arts (1993). The Visva Prasadini award and the
In 1984 he was invested with the singular Title of "Chevalier of the order of
Merit" by the Italian Government for his services to Art.