Aesthetic auction | Daily News

Aesthetic auction

Launching of the stamp. Pictures by Thushara Fernando
Launching of the stamp. Pictures by Thushara Fernando

There are many reasons to fall in love and be proud of our country Sri Lanka. We have a rich culture and history and our hospitality is known throughout the world. We also have a very vibrant culture and since winning peace almost 10 years, we have come together as Sri Lankans and celebrated our diversity and identity. Soon on February 25, we will have yet another celebration to be proud of, one which shows our diversity and identity – Kala Pola 2018.

This is an Open- Air Art Fair. Over the past quarter of a century, Kala Pola has grown to become a major cultural hub and tourist attraction in Colombo, both locally and internationally.

Humble beginnings

Presented by The George Keyt Foundation in association with John Keells Holdings PLC, Kala Pola has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1993. Exhibiting 35 artists at its first-ever event, which was viewed by the iconic Sri Lankan artist George Keyt himself, this year’s silver jubilee celebration will see over 300 artists and sculptors from all parts of Sri Lanka converge in Colombo to enjoy the patronage and appreciation of thousands of visitors.

Make no mistake, this event will be one of great emotion and cultural entertainment. It is the perfect occasion and opportunity to enjoy oneself. With no worries in your heart, you can really absorb the atmosphere and ambience. It is perfect for families to come and just experience the thrill of seeing great art and activities. It is the number one spot where people from all walks of life can come and see what our country has to offer.

The organizers of the event wish to place special emphasis that the collective artistic talent in this Silver Jubilee year is expected to outshine all previous fairs, given the unprecedented interest of artists and the growing nature of standards achieved with each passing year.

Effective platform

Executive Vice President Head of CSR, John Keells Holdings PLC, Nadija Tambiah said that the John Keells Foundation was proud to be a part of this laudable exercise since its inception.

“Kala Pola is the ideal and an effective platform that allows artists to work themselves towards their career goals while enriching our local art scene. With ‘Empowering the Nation Tomorrow’ as our vision, we are committed to supporting and developing the arts and culture in Sri Lanka’,” said Tambiah.

For 24 years, Kala Pola 2018 continues to enjoy the support and patronage of John Keells Foundation, which is John Keells Holdings Corporate Social Responsibility entity.

“It is the vision of the John Keells Foundation to increase the productivity and skills of our nation. We believe there is an inherent importance of using art to portray the development of our society. Art is there to inspire, to raise questions and to provoke passion. With increasing worldwide interest in South Asian Art, we need to portray the richness of our art to the world. Although Kala Pola is just one event that we use, it has been tremendously successful.

We had 22,000 visitors last year and more than 12 million rupees worth of sales of art at the pola itself. We will also have evening entertainment which will be quite exciting. In addition to being a marketplace, it is a place for networking between artists. It is not just on the Sri Lankan Art Calendar but the regional calendar because we are having so many inquiries from overseas,” pointed out Tambiah.

Lucrative opportunities

Tambiah pointed out that we need to show the world the richness of our art since we are Sri Lankans. There is interest definitely. The fine pieces of original art at the Kala Pola are very affordable and available. We are becoming a nation that values our art and that is how it should be.

Chairman, George Keyt Foundation, Michael Anthonisz recalls the first Kala Pola when there were around 30 artists then. Since then it has grown to around 330 more artists.

‘It is with great honour and pride that we are celebrating and hosting the 25th anniversary of the Kala Pola. We are humbled at the levels of growth and success it has reached and the capacity in which it acts as a platform to support and promote local artists and the lucrative opportunities it provides. We sincerely thank John Keells for its sustained invaluable support over the last two decades”,” said Anthonisz.

Anthonisz commented that the unique feature of the Kala Pola is that all the art-loving folk get to see a myriad of work of various artists with different styles.

“Kala Pola is one of the vibrant social events in the Sri Lankan calendar. In a way, it is a meeting place. It is a cultural event that has come a long way. In the recent years, the whole art scene in Sri Lanka has grown. The large success is due to the Kala Pola. And it has been a great ride. So we have definitely seen a growth in Kala Pola during a period of 25 years,” said Anthonisz. Anthonisz pointed out that Kala Pola has a beauty of its own. Art is out on the streets. You can just stroll through the Kala Pola – a centre of art.

Potential investment

“People have now realized the potential of investing in art. There is a potential investment value in good art,” added Anthonisz.

Artist Sanjeewee Senevirathna is taking part for the 20th time at Kala Pola this year. He participated in his first Kala Pola as a University student.

“That marked the beginning in my career as an artist. It was a turning point in my artistic life. That laid the foundation for my exposure to the local clientele. It was also the first time when it became a business for me. Even though I felt a little doubtful initially, I feel that there has been a good response. But I feel that this pola is a good platform for any budding artist. I met a lot of seasoned artists which has done me a load of good. It has more than an economic value to me,” said Senevirathna.

Senevirathna also stated that he has had the opportunity to make important connections locally internationally. Yet he maintains that his roots are at Kala Pola. Zamshaya Kaleel felt that Kala Pola has had a positive impact on her life giving her much motivation.

Aspiring artists

“It has increased my passion for art. Kala Pola is a fantastic platform for both amateur and professional artists. It is a stepping stone for aspiring artists. It is a fantastic opportunity for us to show our talent. It has many benefits where our work is appreciated,” said Kaleel.

Kala Pola is a dream come true for these artists. They get to sell their work, they receive recognition, they get to network amongst themselves and they have a chance of entering the international arena. Drawing inspiration from the infectious and all-pervasive concept of open-air markets in Europe, notable Montmartre in Paris, Kala Pola has been a wonderful display of local talent, one which colours the street with its vibrant hues, bringing together art enthusiasts from all over Sri Lanka and beyond, to the heart of Colombo. At the press conference held last week, there was an issue of a Kala Pola 25th anniversary stamp and first-day cover.

Kala Pola unveils on Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha on February 25, under the distinguished patronage of Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu. It will be held throughout the day from 8 am till 9 pm.

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