SAARC Exhibition of Paintings 2019 – Sri Lanka

Date      : 22nd – 24th January 2019
Venue   : Senaka Bandaranayake Hall, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka,

The SAARC Exhibition of Paintings 2019, was conducted successfully at the Senaka Bandaranayake Hall, University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka from the 22nd – 24th of January 2019.

The Exhibition of Paintings displayed the diverse painting and artistic talents of the SAARC Region with a collection of over 50 paintings from the SAARC Member States of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The paintings on display formed a stunning array of artistic talents and creative vision by representatives from the participating member states, consisting of artists young and mature, traditional and contemporary, male and female, the famous and the undiscovered. These meaningful and vibrant works of art, showcasing the beauty of our diverse Region, were immortalised on canvas by representatives of the SAARC Member States. The paintings on display were the result of a consolidated effort over the years to bring together painters from the Region, to create such works of art, under the auspices of the SAARC Artists Camp.

The respective Host Member State provided beautiful and inspiring surroundings in which to conduct these SAARC Artists Camps, and where possible, the input and guidance of modern-day Masters. A majority of the paintings on display for this Exhibition were the results of the SAARC Artists Camp and Exhibition of Paintings 2018, conducted in Sri Lanka, under the themes, “South Asian Splendour” and “Vibrant Tranquillity”. The sceneries brought to life by our SAARC Artists, display their creative inspirations which flourish at this annual event organised by the SAARC Cultural Centre


Honoured dignitaries from the SAARC Member States of Nepal and Pakistan and the Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka, learned academics, Chairperson of the National Craft Council and other distinguished invitees, were welcomed onto the premises of the University in a traditional Sri Lankan manner.

The inauguration ceremony commenced with the traditional lighting of the oil lamp led by the Director of the SAARC Cultural Centre, Ms. Renuka Ekanayake and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Kelaniya, Professor D.M. Semasinghe, followed by Mr. Intisar Sulhery, Press Attaché of the High Commission of Pakistan in Sri Lanka, Ms. Dhana Kumari Joshi, First Secretary of the Embassy of Nepal in Sri Lanka, Ms. Thiloma Abayajeewa, Acting Deputy Director from SAARC Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sri Lanka, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Senior Professor Lakshman Senevirathne, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Professor Patrick Rathnayake, Professor Anura Manatunga, Senior professor in Archaeology, the Head of the Department of Fine Arts Prof. Prashanthi Narangoda, Chairperson of the National Craft Council, Ms. Heshani Bogollagama, Librarian of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Dr. Nayana Wijayasundara, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Mr. Vijitha Nandakumara, Director, National Research Council, the Deputy Director (Programmes) of the SAARC Cultural Centre, Mrs. Kishani Jayasinghe – Wijayasekara, the Deputy Director for Research Ms. Bindu Urugodawatte, the Culture Specialist for Programmes, Dr. Soumya Chavan and other distinguished guests.

The Director of the SAARC Cultural Centre, addressed the audience with a welcome speech, followed by the address of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Kelaniya. This was followed by a traditional dance, presented by the students of the Fine Arts department. The first segment of formalities ended with the vote of thanks delivered by the Deputy Director of Programmes. The distinguished guests were then invited to proceed to the main entrance of the Senaka Bandaranayake Hall, where the participating officials from the SAARC Member States and other relevant guests officially declared open the 2019 SAARC Exhibition of Paintings. Thereafter, the honoured guests enjoyed the vibrant and diverse displays of art from the SAARC Member States. A commemorative brochure was produced for the Programme, which was distributed to all distinguished guests present.

ART THERAPY WORKSHOPS – “Creative and Expressive Art

The Centre conducted several auxiliary events to enhance the appreciation of art and the overall productivity of the SAARC Exhibition of Paintings 2019. The events consisted of Art Therapy Workshops on the 23rd of January 2019, and Lectures on Paintings and Art followed by discussions on the 24th of January 2019.

The Art Therapy Workshops were conducted by professional art therapist, Ms. Shimali Perera on the 23rd of January, titled “Creative and Expressive Art”. The Event was attended by Mr. Mohammad Hazrat Ali Khan, Counsellor, Embassy of Bangladesh in Sri Lanka. There were three sessions which promoted creative self-expression at a symbolic and metaphoric level. This was achieved through innovative use of art media, leading to a greater understanding of self. The underlying objective of the workshops, was to create a space where participants were given an opportunity to creatively express themselves and to provide an introspective self-awareness through the creative use of art media. The workshops were conducted using an informal approach, and designed to encourage exploring one’s inner strengths through the creative use of art and imagination. These workshops were organised with a variety of participants in mind, with a particular focus on art students and the youth. The sessions brought about a positive outcome which left the participants with an increased sense of confidence, esteem and awareness.

The lectures and discussions on painting and art took place on the 24th of January, and were conducted by Professor Patrick Rathnayake, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Professor Anura Manatunga, senior professor of Archaeology, both from the University of Kelaniya. The lectures were valuable and addressed relevant and interesting subject matter relating to art, culture and the overall effect it has on life, learning and success.

The SAARC Exhibition of Paintings 2019, was concluded in a successful manner, achieving its objectives and displaying positive outcomes. The Centre was able to promote regional unity through the medium of art, showcase inherent aspects of the heritage of the SAARC Member States and to promote and protect South Asia’s culture through art.

It was a fitting tribute to the celebration of South Asian art and artists and achieved its objective of spreading unity, culture and greater understanding through art and culture.