27th February 2019, Colombo: Leo Art, an artists-in-residence programme by Leo Burnett Sri Lanka, recently curated the exhibition at the Lionel Wendt Festival of Art which took place from the 23rd to the 24th of February, under the theme ‘Palettes of Modern Art’. Organized by the Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund, the festival was a vibrant celebration of Sri Lankan modern art and featured an engaging variety of presentations, talks, seminars and sessions, with the exhibition taking centre stage as the main platform that showcased the work of 26 artists from across the country. The festival also payed homage to the life and legacy of the late Lionel Wendt and commemorated his substantial contribution to the development of arts and culture in Sri Lanka.
The exhibition showcased the work of both veteran and emerging artists, and the entire event aimed to provide these local artists with a platform for expressing their creative ideas, and sharing their art with wider audiences whilst taking steps towards embarking on meaningful collaborations with commercial entities.
The artists participated in this year’s festival were Sanjeewa Kumara, J.C. Rathnayake, Vajira Gunawardena, Dileepa Jeewantha, Susil Senanayeka, Prageeth Rathnayake, Chamila Gamage, Chiranthi Gunasekara, Sanjaya Bandara, Vimukthi Sahan and Vikum Bandara. Also exhibiting their work at the exhibition were Lasantha Kumara, Pramith Geekiyanage, Chammika Jayawardena, Yuwantha Yasas, Namal Kumara, Wasanthaa Gunasekara, Gayan Prageeth and Sanjeewa Kumari. Other artists who participated included Prageeth Morahanga, Hashan Cooray, Chathuranga Gamage, Chathuranga Biyagama, Sanjeewi Senaviratne, and Kasun Manoj.
Commenting on the festival, Arosha Perera – CEO of Leo Burnett Sri Lanka stated: “Leo Art was privileged to collaborate with the prestigious Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund to help nurture and develop the field of contemporary and fine art in Sri Lanka. This exhibition featured a well-balanced mix of work, including pieces by veteran artists as well as those by up-and-coming artists. This year’s festival also celebrated the life and impact that the late Lionel Wendt has made on the local arts circuit, and we are truly pleased to have been able to celebrate him by curating a world-class exhibition that showcases Sri Lanka’s incredible artistic talent.”
Leo Art was initiated by Leo Burnett Sri Lanka to encourage creativity in the fine arts, by providing artists with a space to express their creative ideas, collaborate with agency teams on commercial projects, whilst being seen and appreciated by larger audiences. In just nine years, Leo Art has grown from a small in-house initiative into a full-scale art event that is having a meaningful impact on the island’s creative industry whilst fostering fruitful collaborations between artists and companies from a cross-section of industries.
The Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund was established in 1946 and incorporated in 1948 with the objectives of perpetuating the memory of Lionel Wendt (1900-1944) and the developing the arts by stimulating an interest in the arts and encouraging more appreciative public audiences. In pursuing these objectives the Lionel Wendt Memorial Centre was built creating spaces for exhibitions, concerts, recitals, theatrical and dance performances and providing opportunities for classes in music, drama and photography. Over the years, the Centre has been the launching platform for numerous artists and theatre personalities and artistic work. According to Applause at the Wendt (Neville Weeraratne, LWMF, 2003), Lionel Wendt was an educator, drawing out of people their latent talents and encouraging them in their creative endeavours.