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Art in the Open by Juliet Coombe

Art in the Open by Juliet Coombe

By Juliet Coombe

Jetwing Colombo Seven is a short walk to Green Path railing Kala Pola art market also situated in the upmarket area of Colombo 07. As more people are recognizing the importance of Sri Lankan art over the last couple of decades more young artists are coming to the capital to sell all sorts of innovative work. The Green Path Open Air art scene has been in the thick of this revival. It was started by the George Keyt Foundation as an annual Open Air Art Exhibition and has now blossomed into a weekly Sunday art-fest triggered by the enthusiasm and chutzpah of that most enterprising of all types of artist – the student, who will also now show exhibitions of work through out the week on the Green Path Railings and surrounding pavement and trees.

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For them, the street is a gallery space to be as imaginative as they can without blocking the pathway. They hang their works on the long green fence that borders the Vihara Maha Devi Park along Green Path and even from the trees. Formal art galleries are too expensive and their requirements too bureaucratic for the new kids on the block. The students need a place where they can set up and sell their art to pay their way through college and also see how people respond to their experimental pieces.

 

This plays out well for the art buyer at the end of the day. Students sell their art cheap and the lack of overhead costs and commissions, not to mention the need to make some money, makes for good art deals  for in some cases less than US$10 for a painting! Styles range from the starkly traditional to the highly abstract; “Art has evolved in Sri Lanka over the last few years. “The Keyt Foundation street exhibitions really brought a new dimension to Sri Lankan art opportunities,” says Janaka de Silva owner of The Galle Fort Gallery in the Southern province, who used this as a platform for his own work and now as a source to discover the next big thing.

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A visit to Green Path on a Sunday is a must if you are in Colombo 07 and you never know your luck – you may find Sri Lanka’s equivalent of Van Gogh. So whatever your liking, scenery or sunsets, pottery or portraits, contemporary or classic, religious or just a nude woman’s derriere, Kala Pola has it all and who knows, what you buy now for a pittance might end up being priceless when these young artists gets recognised for their true abilities.