Serendib Gallery International Art Exhibition Project
First major exhibition of Sri Lankan art in mainland
An Exhibition Project organized by the Museum fur Volkerkunde, Vienna
and the Serendib Gallery, Sri Lanka; with the Serendib gallery being the
coorganiser and the sole representative in Sri Lanka for this venture,
had its preview at the very impressive Museum fur Volkerkunde (Museum
for Ethnology), Vienna on November 17, 2008 amidst a large and
representative gathering of art lovers from both Vienna and Sri Lanka in
spite of a bitterly cold winter evening.
This exhibition of paintings, graphic art, installations, sculpture
and photography by 33 Sri Lankan artists with 75 artworks;
This first major exhibition of Sri Lankan art in Continental Europe
by established artists as well as by emerging voices in the vibrant and
diverse Sri Lankan art community created much interest; some of these
exhibits were provided by the Museum fur Volkerkunde and the Serendib
Gallery from their permanent collections.
The substantial survey of Sri Lanka's as yet little known
contemporary art production, presented a range of creative expressions
and of current themes in the work of these artists to a larger broader
Conceived as a travelling exhibition, this exhibition aims to include
Sri Lankan art into a global discourse on contemporary art and culture.
The artworks which will be exhibited till March 2, 2009 at Vienna,
will then move to other centers in Europe.
The gathering present at the preview were addressed by the co-organisers
Professor Dr. Christian F. Feest and Mohan Daniel. The other speakers
included H.E. M. M. Jaffeer, the Sri Lankan Ambassador in Austria and
the curators Dr. Sylvia S. Kasprycki and Dr. Doris Strambau, who had
spent much time in Sri Lanka gathering background information for this
The Serendib Gallery has for the past few years instrumental in
organizing exhibitions of Sri Lankan contemporary art abroad, which
again is a new phenomena where Sri Lankan artists have had opportunity
of displaying their talent and genius beyond the shores of Sri Lanka.
The Serendib Gallery operates on a non commercial basis in organizing
these exhibitions abroad and bears a portion of the expenditure involved
and does not charge any fee or commissions on artworks sold; so as to
ensure that the artist receives the full value at which he has priced
The Museum fur Volkerkunde (Museum of Ethnology) Vienna, is one of
Europe's foremost museums representing the cultures and traditional arts
of Africa, Asia and the Americas, based on collections assembled in
Austria since the 1500's.
By now the Museum of Ethnology houses and administrates more than
240,000 ethnographic artifacts, 72,000 historical photographs and
136,000 books. The museum's artifact collections also include about 750
ethnographic objects from Sri Lanka, half of which were acquired before
One of the exhibits
Mohan Daniel mentioned that an exhibition of this variety and
magnitude has never been attempted abroad and surpasses past exhibitions
organized by him. It is also the first major exhibition of Sri Lankan
art in mainland Europe. The curators of this exhibition are Dr. Doris
Stambrau and Dr. Sylvia Kasprycki who share a long standing interest in
non-Western arts and years of experience in exhibition making, together
they organized two internationally successful shows of contemporary
American Indian art:
The artists taking part in this exhibition comprise of artists who
have participated in international exhibitions abroad, namely Sanjeewa
Kumara, Jagath Weerasinghe, Anoli Perera, Kingsley Gunatilleke, Sarath
Kumarasiri, Pradeep Chandrasiri who won the Commonwealth Award for Art
in 2005, Chandragupta Thenuwara and Wijelatha Edirisinghe and others who
had not exhibited in exhibitions abroad earlier.
This exhibition will move to other European cities after its four
month stint in Vienna. Mohan Daniel laid down the blue prints to promote
our unique dance culture too, this venture dealing with traditional Sri
Lankan dance forms.
A talented troupe of Sri Lankan dancers and drummers performed
traditional and folk dance forms of Sri Lanka at the preview and two
other occasions, the last of which was a well attended and much
appreciated 80 minute concert.
The dance troupe was led by Suchintha Weerawardena.
This is the first occasion that a dance troupe from any nation has
performed at this prestigious museum.
The exhibition of art and the dance performances received wide
publicity in Vienna.
Daniel stressed on the support given by of H.E. M. M. Jaffeer our
Ambassador and Counsellor of the Sri Lankan Embassy in Austria, Satya
Rodrigo and their advice which was much appreciated by the organisers
both in Vienna and Sri Lanka.
This exhibition in its entirety is online on the www.artsrilanka.org
Accompanying this exhibition a comprehensive catalogue will be
published within the next few weeks and is designed as a comprehensive
reference work on contemporary Sri Lankan art. Fully illustrated in
colour, it will have approximately 250 pages and around 160 colour