An artist in a floating realm | Daily News

An artist in a floating realm


Artists are just children who refuse to put down their crayons. Al Hirschfeld

Talent in any form is a gift from birth. Even the very parents of the baby who is born will never presume that their production would end up as a world-famous personality in some recognized field. So, was Raja Segar, a world-renowned artist. Art varies in many fields such as music, drawing and sculpture. They are all categorized into one unit - art.

Raja Segar was born on the Sri Lankan soil. A creative man of silence, sharp, smart, passionate, roams only one path. With a lowered gaze, he talks with his brush whilst answering briefly. The brief talk weighs a lot. What is on his mind is depicted on a white sheet of paper.

“As a painter, I draw what I see and what I feel. Talent is in your own body. Our own talent and culture. I make use of it,” Segar whispers. Segar has published two books: Segar Autobiography with paintings and Dialogue with Darkness. The collectors would long to place Dialogue with Darkness on their racks. The little artists follow his style, introduce their own art and make completely different art.

Segar was good in my mathematics. But he just drew whatever he felt like.

“I was so fond of VW beetle cars, I sketched in the manner I felt, in triangular forms. I never thought I would be able to buy this car one day as I was struggling with my bus fare then. I drew a parrot and got it framed with the little collection I had and hid it as I knew my mother would blast me for spending money on frames. However, she found it,” Segar reminisces.

They resided in a small house, on hand to mouth existence. His mother shouted at him, quite the expected. She wanted her son to get the money back from the frame seller. A little boy not even ten years, Segar took it back to the framing shop and begged him to keep the frame and give him the money. The seller was annoyed that he broke the glass and the beautiful parrot flew to the dustbin. The framer knew that the Segar family was destitute and would keep their mouth shut. He went home empty-handed and hid for hours until his mother cooled down.

“I stopped painting ever since. At St. Michael’s College, even during our art period, I was just another student to my art teacher. She thought I couldn’t draw. I also thought I cannot draw. After leaving the school I worked as a Turf Accountant to keep our home fires burning. Later I joined Ceylon Cold Stores Ltd and met ACJ Sykes who introduced me to Senaka Senanayake. Senaka. After looking at my greeting cards and my pieces of A4 size art, heaven knows how, he inspired me to draw and display them in his gallery at Kingsbury Hotel.”

In the meantime, Segar’s greeting cards became popular in all the 5-star hotel Bookshops in Colombo and Negombo. Plus, he had the opportunity to leave for Australia, where Segar distributed his greeting cards to many shops in the towns. But luck was not in his favour, as greeting cards of the Sri Lankan lifestyle has had no meaning for Australians.

“My own conscious tapped my heart and said: You fool go round find some beautiful places, people, events in Australia sometimes you might hit the jackpot. I started to draw as what my conscience spoke to me. A few weeks later when I went around the shops, I was told by the shop keepers that they sold all and to place quickly more greeting cards in larger sizes too. My venture looked promising. My money-spinner started working. I managed to earn in plenty. But my heart was here in Sri Lanka. I loved my mother country. I decided to return to my sweet homeland despite so many who wanted me to stay back there in Australia,” Segar sums up.

And here Segar is in his stall at L5 M 27 One Galle Face, Colombo, depicting his limited edition prints, collages and serigraphs. My eyes turn from picture to picture he has drawn, people and events.

“I would like all companies, offices, ministries would carry original paintings on their walls. In other countries in their annual budget, a portion is passed towards beautifying the interior décor with oil paintings, possible from the roof level to the floor and each room to carry an original art,” Segar notes.

We need more visual media to collaborate with marketing products. This presentation of art would enable the present man and the future generations to value and admire Sri Lankan art. Sri Lankan culture should take on an endless journey while looking at art as the best investment.

“If a child is good at drawing, encourage them. Never believe that becoming a doctor and other professionals is the only lucrative livelihood. Not everyone is capable of drawing. Not even universities, let alone other higher institutes, can inculcate that skill in anyone unless they have the inherent talent,” Segar observes.

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