|George Keyt (1901 - 1993) made an unparalleled
contribution to the art and culture of our times and particularly Sri Lanka for nearly 70
The need to perpetuate his name and preserve his work as part of Sri Lanka's
national heritage therefore became a natural consequence. A group of his ardent
admirers and friends decided on 18 June 1988 that it was appropriate to establish a
Foundation in his name then and not later. The George Keyt Foundation which came
into being on that day was subsequently incorporated on 13 June 1990.
The George Keyt Foundation is committed to honouring George Keyt through the following
Promoting art and assisting Sri Lanka artists including painters, sculptors, musicians
and writers, establishing a gallery of modern Sri Lanka art, restoring and preserving
George Keyt's work in all media, publishing writings and reproducing works of art of
George Keyt and others to enable more and more people to have access to them.
Drawing from the inspiration and contribution of George Keyt whose life spanned almost
the whole of the 20 Century - as a Painter, Poet, and Writer was a legend in his
life-time, the George Keyt Foundation has in over twelve years made a major contribution
to promote the Arts, and in a way revive it from the end of the nineteen eighties.
As a first step, to provide opportunities for the Artists to exhibit, and at times
assisting them to present their exhibitions, and then the opportunity to discover, and
opportunity to develop. These nearly thirteen years would have had over 65
presentations, exhibitions of Sri Lankan Painters, exhibitions of groups of Painters,
month long exhibitions of 4/5 painters, individual exhibitions of Sri Lankan and Overseas
Painters, exhibitions of SAARC Painters and Modern Sri Lanka Painters, and two exhibitions
'Young Contemporaries' to discover Artists up to the age of 40 has been presented
annually and then alternate years over the last several years. Then followed a
selected group "Nawa Kalakaruwo" - emerging new Artists - inaugurated in 1994.
The Kala Pola (Open Air Art Fair) initiated by the Foundation in mid 1992 has now
settled into a very popular and much sought after annual expectation. It is planned
to present - Kala Pola in January and mid year from this year 2001.
All these opportunities have resulted in the emergence into the Art scene of many
Artists in these last twelve years, and led to initiating and organising jointly with the
Cultural bodies of Germany, France and Britain, and the Vibhavi Academy, in 1997, 1998
& 1999 of an International Artists' Camp, and last year solely by the George Keyt
Foundation. Norwegian, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, American and Dutch support
brought in 10 Artists from Overseas.
The George Keyt Foundation was proud to be associated in presenting a "Kala
Dharshana" of 'Masters' of the Performing arts - music and song, dance and ballet,
theatre and film - Dr. W D Amaradeva, Prof. Ediriweera Sarathchandra (Sinhabahu), Dr.
Earle De Fonseka & Druvi De Saram (Symphony Orchestra), Dr. Lester James Peiris
(Rekawa) and Dr. Chitrasena & Vajira, in November 1991. This is an interest
which will receive more participation by the Foundation in the months and years ahead.
Allied to the promotion of the Arts has been several publications as well as the
informative catalogues of exhibitions, and the facsimile reproductions, so that there is
more access for our Artists - a few writings have been translated into Sinhala and Tamil
for easier access.
Publications include a bio-bibliography of George Keyt and the first book of the
Drawings of George Keyt by Dr. H.A.I. Goonetileke, tribute to George Keyt by the Ministry
of Cultural Affairs of a book authored by Albert Dharmasiri on the paintings of the Life
of the Buddha on the walls of Gotami Vihare, 'George Keyt Interpretations' authored by Dr.
Sunil Goonesekera and published by the Institute of Fundamental Studies and a Publication
of the reproductions of the murals by George Keyt - Gotami Buddha Frescoes with the text
by Prof. Anuradha Seneviratne.
A further significant achievement was the rehabilitation of the Gotami Vihare shrine
room, the walls of which show George Keyt's epic of 60 years ago - the life of Lord
These are briefly our activities in over twelve years. We have been considerably
assisted in these achievements by the several sponsors who have supported us over the
years - some who continue year after year, who have made it possible for us to achieve all
of the above and have earned the very sincere appreciation and gratitude of our
Cedric De Silva
The George Keyt Foundation