Laki Senanayake: Artist Voice from Sri Lanka (1997)

R. J. Preece
artdesigncafé - art | 15 September 2009
This interview was previously published in Asian Art News, 7(3), pp. 57-65 (1997) as part of a large feature on contemporary art in Sri Lanka.
Born in 1937, Laki Senanayake has been an important force in Sri Lanka’s art scene. He has worked on painting and sculpture commissions for architect Geoffrey Bawa. He is a practicing artist in a variety of areas: painting, architecture, landscape gardening, music, and poetry, and he has shown his work overseas. He lives in suburban Colombo and in Dambulla in the dry zone.

Laki Senanayake: I have been drawing and painting since the age of 13 and have had no formal education in the arts. For me, education at school for the most part was tiresome. Instead of my art being a "serious" endeavor, I would better describe it as a passionate pursuit.

Actually, what affected me greatly in school was boredom. As a child, water, rocks, and jungle were the subjects dominant in my work. Later, during adolescence, figures and building were added. Upon leaving school, I started work in architecture, which has been a continuing involvement. I didn’t paint much during school, but started once again after leaving it. I have no preference for particular materials or subject matter.

People seem to respond with pleasure to my work entirely due to the fact that it’s largely representational and presents no difficulty in comprehension. However I have no idea how they actually describe it. My work is very influenced by the nature and culture of Sri Lanka and Western painting.

I have no future plans regarding my work, except to keep on working— I have no desire to go anywhere from here.