Poetry art, by Shantha K. Herath will be held on February 8, 9, and 10 at the Public Library Art Gallery, Colombo 7
The question has often been asked, "What is Art?" According to one writer, it is a piece of work - writing, music, carving or painting - on which is manifested the intense passion of creatiivity that comes out of a person’s mind.
It has to be a creation that would bring out an aesthetic experience in the beholder.
The work of Shantha K. Herath fulfils this description. Shantha has developed into a painter who could certainly move human emotions Yet his path to becoming an accomplished painter was beset with trials and tribulations.
"Even my parents tried to dissuade me from taking to art" he once said. "I had such a time to convince my teachers and let them permit me to sit the Art paper at the GCE examination"
Shantha joined the "Divaina" as an illustrator and over the years he brought newspaper illustrations into the realm of art. With the sensitivity of a creative mind, he broadened the horizons of newspaper art and offered a new insight into illustrations, taking it away from mere decorative form.
Educated at Nugawela Maha Vidyalaya and at Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa, Shantha was expected to work towards a better future than as an artist. But, convinced that art was to be his mission in life, he left home to strike out on his own.
The Divaina gave him the opportunity to continue with his chosen vocation. He was befriended by Stanley Abeysinghe and H. A. Karunaratne, two well known artists and art teachers. Shantha acknowledges that these two, his unofficial ‘gurus’ taught him all he needed to know about art.
His other knowledge, he says, he obtained through books at the British Council and other libraries.
The Martin Wickremasinghe Truust gave him the opportunity to copy murals at the Kathaluwa Poorvarama Temple, and his employer, Upali Newspapers Limited, gave him the necessary leave to carry out this project
Shantha has copied these murals on 10 feet by 2 panels, and his rendition of these murals are faithful to the state of the paintings as they are today.
One incident in Shantha’s life stands out. He considers it a hilarious encounter with an art academician, held in high esteem in the country This person had watched Shantha at work, copying a mural and had asked him who was directing him to do this work.
Shantha replied that he did not see the need for any director. He was then asked from which university he had graduated, and he surprised the academician when he told him that he had no affinity with the world of academia.
Shantha is no mere stylist flaunting a banner of modern art to cover his insensibilities to human emotions, and to conceal his ignorance of the rudiments of drawing. He has proved that passionate concentration in any work could give exceellence in spite of the lack of a formal university education.