Vajira Gunawardena


View all work by Vajira Gunawardena

Self-portraits and colour dominate Vajira Gunawardena's work. Various heads, skulls and faces within the silhouette of a larger head are combined to encompass memories visually. In Gunawardena's earlier work he painted scenes from daily life and television with a focus on commercialism and consumerism. His latter works have begun to present more of the artist's self, in compositions of bright abstract canvases, featuring the face in many forms, expressions and colours. Gunawardena's work connects with the viewer in a lighter, direct manner. There are no hidden, darker meanings, just pure, bright fun.


The artist believes that creativity is his only response mechanism to the social politics he is faced with and a statement of his own artistic freedom that he uses in order to work without rules or trends. Gunawardena emerges from a generation of artists whom have studied with limited resources, nevertheless expressing their artistic creativity freely. Gunawardena uses motifs from popular culture combined with the traditional art practice in a similar way to that of neo-expressionists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Georg Baselitz. There is, however, a softer, quirkiness to his compositions, a characteristic that the artist uses to connect with and appeal to his audience. This experience in its entirety offers the viewer the escapism he himself craves.


'I work instinctively and intuitively. Spontaneity and experimentation play key roles in my creative process and I continuously edit my work until a unified composition and narrative emerges,' states Gunawardena. While he does not belong to a collective, he works closely with other established and young artists in promoting the contemporary art scene and staging exhibitions in galleries in Colombo.