Madonna and Child.  1947
Oil on canvass.  81 x 60 cm
The Serendib Gallery collection


Oil on canvass.  00 x 00 cm



   Retrospective Exhibition

Richard Gabriel builds up volumes without hollowing the picture surface.  As in the art of bas-reliefs, he creates an abstract , imaginary space, like that of the Primitives, makes objects overlap as in Egyptian reliefs and envelop each plane in an arabesque within a two dimensional perspective which he subsequently amplified and organised in his large scale church murals.  In these logic and intuition are skillfully and sensitively blended.  His compositions are at once architecturally ordered and unconstrained - a world of colour and flat planes, order and proportion, virtues of balance are easily and superbly accomplished making himself a master of "just proportions" an economy of means.  His watch-word appears to be calculated caution.  The liberties he claims are only that of a pioneer.

Richard Gabriel disincarnates men and animals, or spiritualises them, even the violence in them so as to distill the secret of their plastic qualities into pictures that are perhaps paradigmatically meaningful pointing out that perhaps in life things which look different are really the same are really different (Wittgenstein).

His is a comprehension more knowing, more spontaneous, with a kind of revelation drawn from the ambience itself.  Many of his paintings function as pictographs where figurative and graphic elements are combined.  The very clarity thus achieved refers us to the joint problem of figuration and signification.  It is never naive to ask oneself in front of a Richard Gabriel painting what it represents.  His semi-surrealistic paintings with their vocabulary of bulls, horses, dogs and crows is shown variously symbolising cruelty, violence, sexuality, spiritual aspiration and man's separateness and integration with the animal world, in landscape settings with a sense of poised or charged threshold in the relationships between animals and men... Somewhere in that elision of that artist's vision with our own subjective perception lies the mystery that eludes and attracts us..

Prof. S B Dissanayake