The Fish.  Undated
Oil on canvas.  66 x 47 cm

 

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Head.  Undated
Oil on canvas.  66 x 56 cm

JUSTIN PIERIS DARANIYAGALA

1903 - 1967

   Retrospective Exhibition

Behind every Justin Daraniyagala painting that exists perhaps lie the ghosts of many others, or vanished states, for he is not content with an image until it has undergone many trials and each time has been scraped off or rubbed down.  This procedure allowed for radical alteration at every stage; only at the last moment does the picture become fixed.  His art exemplifies Picasso's dictum that "a painting is the sum of destructions".  The results can be exhilarating or unnerving sometimes amidst a welter of twisting brush marks, slabs and gobs of oil paint on a rich stew of colour.   It is equally disturbing when he transforms a face into a mask.  His concerns are of an emotional reality apprehended over a period of time while at work on the painting itself, whether the subject invokes in him fierce expressiveness or oblique tenderness, it becomes mixed with his technical preoccupations with paint through the activity of the brush, palate-knife or simply the artist's naked fingers.

As an Expressionist he sought an immediacy of experience achieved not through "facile rush" but in a way that is deeply meditated, implicated with childhood and cultural memories and desires.

His "Ancient Mariner's eye" saw in bursts banishing any semblance of academic notions of observation, replacing them with existentialist insights and flashes sometimes even colourfully jubilant.

In his work dense layers of hesitation and ambiguities preponderate.  In the images he created he externalised and visualised his inner world.  Rhythms and patterns arose not in relation to the image but independently, while the image itself merged unwilled as it were out of a dance of line and colour across the picture surface - images growing out of the blur and flow of the paint itself and its evocative not descriptive power.

In Justin Daraniyagala we have an artist who has reconstructed and forced into compelling Art a world based solely on his own subjectivity which kept welling inside him.

Prof. S B Dissanayake