'Ekath Ehemeda' - asks Shantha k Herath
It was a late afternoon sometime last week. The lanky youngster
was busy explaining his art to a few people who had walked into
the National Library Services Board auditorium to view the 'Sakku
Cartoon Ekathuwa' (Collection of pocket cartoons). Artist Shantha
K. Herrath had picked some of his work over the past two decades
for the exhibition - possibly a 'first' where pocket cartoons are
concerned. We are used to enjoying Shantha's work on topical issues
every morning on page one of the Divaina. But to see most of it
in a single collection along with a lot of caricatures of leading
political figures and his other efforts was a refreshing experience.
Only a few
may have known that it was Shantha who gave the innovative treatment
to the weekly supplement on arts in the daily Divaina sometime back.
(He is presently the Art Editor). The few pages that were exhibited
showed a totally new approach to page layouts. There was a freshness
in them. One could see the genuine effort made by a creative artiste
to do something new. The pages were bold layouts with one or two
impressive black and white pictures - sometimes with a lot of white
space. The impact was eye catching. One had a feature on the renowned
sculptor Surendra. A dominating picture of one of Surendra's creations,
a portrait of the sculptor and the write-up about his creations
had been presented effectively.
how he tried to be different to other cartoonists who had made a
name for themselves, Shantha says he tried to give a mobile effect
to the drawing to make a sharp statement and scribbled the words
without using the typed letters. The result was a series of pocket
cartoons titled 'Ekath Ehemeda' (Is that so) adorning the front
page of the Divaina for three years. "The objective of my pocket
cartoon was to use a headline appearing in the newspaper to kindle
subtle humour while bringing to the attention of the reader a weakness
prevalent in society," he explains.
the different classification of art (pure, commercial and applied),
he believes that under whatever category, a creative artist is able
to produce quality work based on his understanding of the medium,
his mastery of skill and his perception of the society he lives
marked the release of a collection of his pocket cartoons in book
form - a 'must' for anyone's library because it reflects the social,
political and economic environment that existed in the country in
the eighties. As renowned cartoonist Wijesoma says, Shantha's book
of cartoons "makes you look at the most serious situations
in a lighter vein."
Shantha as a cartoonist who introduced a new style, breaking away
from the traditional, to the pocket cartoon, not seen in Sinhala
In the book,
Shantha has presented the cartoons in an interesting way. In the
first few pages he reproduces the newspaper pages with his cartoons
in the exact format they appeared in. Thereafter he has devoted
a page for each cartoon with a news headline indicating the topic
which prompted him to draw the cartoon and the cartoon with his
wording. There is an English translation given to each so that even
a non-Sinhala reader is able to enjoy it. A good thought.
It's well worth
having Shantha's book of cartoons in anyone's collection.
by Dee Cee