Abstract. 1980
Watercolour on paper. 30.5 x 22.5 cm
The Serendib Gallery Collection

Girl with fish. Undated
Watercolour on paper. 75 x 61 cm
The Serendib Gallery Collection


1902 - 1982

   Retrospective Exhibition

Manjusri was an aimless village lad, who subsequently by singleminded tenacity of purpose, and sheer hard work in the chosen career, achieved the rare distinction of being one of the most significant painters of modern Sri Lanka.  His crowning glory was the confirment of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, 1979, in recognition of his contribution to literature and creative communication arts.  He was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by the University of Peradeniya in March 1981.

Manjusri was born on 28 October 1902 at Alutgama.  He was so fascinated by the sight of monks begging for alms, that at the age of thirteen he joined the Sangha as an acolyte.  In 1922 he was ordained a Bhikku; the next ten years were devoted to the pursuit of Pali and Buddhist studies.  Manjusri went to Santiniketan in 1932 to study Chinese.  During his stay in Santiniketan he came under the influence of Nandalal Bose and his interest turned to art.  In 1937 he returned to Sri Lanka and stayed at Gotami Vihare, Borella, visiting Buddhist temples throughout the country, making copies of paintings of the Kandyan School.

Manjusri made an outstanding contribution to the preservation of these precious national treasures by generating a national awareness of their importance in artistic as well as historical terms.

Manjusri was one of the founder members of the '43 Group.  Inspired by Surrealism and Cubism Manjusri developed a pictorial vocabulary in which he created visual equivalents for the fantasies of the subconscious mind.

Albert Dharmasiri