‘Odyssey’ by the 2020 Group, the inaugural art exhibition at the Colombo Art Gallery at Gandhara Street is now open to the public.
With galleries shutting down around the world, it’s easy to get dejected. As news of art fairs and online viewing rooms dominate the art sphere due to the ‘new normal’ world, prospects for new art gallery spaces seem grim. Yet, the news of the launch of the Colombo Art Gallery was welcome news for artists as well as art lovers, revealing that the prognosis for the art market in the country may not be so bleak and that dealers are still enthusiastic about developing fresh gallery programming and finding new business models.
The Colombo Art Gallery opened its doors yesterday with a reception at 6pm in a brand new space located at the new premises in Gandhara Street, the only Art Street in the country. This one of a kind, unique street is the curated mix of brands belonging to categories such as Fashion, Lifestyle, Wellness, Dining and Art-bring to life the first dynamic ‘art street’ in the island. It is a haven for art and design lovers, boasting an incredible array of creative talents; yet until now there has not been a Gallery dedicated to Art.
To celebrate this occasion, the Colombo Art Gallery presents ‘Odyssey’ a group exhibition by the 2020 Group consisting of 12 renowned, local artists until end of May 2021.
The brainchild of none other than Dian Gomes, the founder of Gandhara Street, the Colombo Art Gallery is the result of his long-standing passion for Art, consisting of his private collection from across the globe along with a fine curation of renowned local artists. Being a treasure trove for art enthusiasts, it contains Art from Argentina, Spain, countries in Africa and the world over; all in the heart of Colombo.
A significant segment of the space exhibits local talent, including paintings and sculptures from celebrated Sri Lankan artists. The addition of the 2020 Group marks a significant juncture in Sri Lankan Art history, as it is a commitment towards Representational Art, by some of the best in the field.
The Gallery itself has been designed in keeping with international standards and the highest quality in mind, while Dian’s attention to detail is evident within the bright and airy walls; providing respite from the hustle and bustle outside.
“During my extensive tenure in the corporate world, art has remained a significant respite from the demands that entailed. For nearly three decades it has been about apparel and the industry growth in our country, a feat we no doubt attained. Yet from childhood to now, my true passion has always been art. Gandhara was my first endeavour with respect to this, followed by Villa Republic embodying Geoffrey Bawa’s signature architecture. Gandhara Street is no doubt a culmination of the same, created together with many like-minded people. Yet , Colombo Art Gallery has to be the most intimate celebration of art that I have experienced, because it contains work that has spoken to me from around the world,” said Dian.
As he said, ‘Odyssey’ is a momentous step in the Gallery’s journey, as its inaugural exhibition. What is more special about this would be the artists involved, the 2020 Group.
“These artists are some of Sri Lanka’s greatest talent, who have come together for an even greater cause. Brush strokes on canvas will be timeless, yet there is a decline in prominence given to representational art due to a plethora of changes taking place in the world. A most recent occurrence being Crypto Art, a digital art form that is able to prove authenticity, making waves globally with their popularity. The world will no doubt keep evolving, and all art forms will dent their respective space for appreciation.”
As a country rich in both history and talent, Dian believes that we should do our best in finessing strong points such as Representational Art. He also believes that this will be a strong footing in the global arena; where we represent our quality and skill together with the pride of a beautiful nation.
The 2020 Group comprise 12 senior artists of different disciplines, practicing distinctive styles of their own, Realism, Impressionism, idealism, Stylisation and Figurative Art. They formed the 2020 Group with a precise idea in mind. In today’s world of uncertainty and change, digitalisation, symbolism and psychedelia, they believe that the purest of art forms are losing appreciation and acceptance which is unfortunately true of the art scene in Sri Lanka as well. The 2020 Group was formed to shift the spotlight back to Representational Art.
“This exhibition is the start of that long journey. Titled ‘Odyssey’ followed by a carefully planned systematic approach to bring this form of practice in art to the forefront. They will follow international best practices and stayi abreast of what is happening in representational art world wide, thus raising the bar for international acceptance locally,” stated the 2020 Group.
They hope their initiative will hopefully inspire local artists as well as aspiring junior artists in Sri Lanka to engage in representational work and to know there is recognition in that sphere of art. Hence, it will encourage more people to take up representational work.
“The collective goal concerning the preservation and development of Representational Art in Sri Lanka, is the purpose behind this eclectic group of local artists coming together. We have produced and celebrated many old masters from the past in Sri Lanka, and the need to continue that practice was imperative. The 2020 Group of artists are passionate about their work, and are on a mission to create a culture for Representational Art in the island,” said Curator and Co-Founder of the 2020 Group, Sunil Katugampola.
Katugampola believes this is a timely effort, as the need for representational art is more vital now than ever before. He firmly believes that this bold and notable event would be the turning point occurrence after eight decades; as that is the last time in history where a similar successful attempt was made by another group of committed local artists.
“I wish to offer my sincere gratitude to Dian Gomes for generously offering this venue as well as the assistance given in making ‘ODYSSEY”’ come to life. The readiness with which he agreed to work with us as ‘Partners in Progress’, is the beginning of a long and eventful march towards re-kindling Representational Art in Sri Lanka. It is a great honour to be part of such a meaningful journey and this is only the beginning,” he added.