Modern Art


The Modern Art of Sri Lanka

There was a heavy decline in many of the conventional arts after the invasions of foreign nationals. However the organizations such as Group of 43, Lanka National Art Forum and Lanka Art Association have contributed for the redevelopment of the conventional art.

The artists during this period  have used water colours, oil paints mostly in the places of temples, churches and in dramas and as media personals in news papers, personal creations and art of cartoons have been created with their individual applications and contributed very much for the redevelopment of the art.

Solius Mendis, Henry Dharmasena, Jeorge Keit, M. Sarlis, S.P. Charles and many other artists of this period can be named as the pioneers to deviate from the conventional paintings of Kandyan period.


M.Sarlis selected the events of life of Buddha very much in his paintings.

These paintings reflect shades and three dimensional appearances and some of the outstanding paintings of him are Birth of Prince Siddhartha, Enlightenment of Buddha, The great Renunciation, Dancing of three daughters of Mara, Offering of Alms by Sujatha, The painting of “Wapmagula”, skipping the horse from the Neranjana River, Prince Siddhartha and Prajapathi Devi.




Solius Mendis

This is one of the great artists who has changed the conventional pattern of Kandyan Art in to a very attractive and creative manner with a unique modern theme in his paintings. The way he has used lines in his paintings are rhythmical and marvelous.

Although the most famous paintings of him are from the Kalaniya temple, he has done paintings in Jayamaha Vihara in Polonnaruwa, Udubaddwa Temple, Meddepola Temple in Giriulla and Ranassgalla Temple.

Some of the paintings of Solius Mendis in Kelaniya Temple are Enlightenment of Buddha, Bringing the Tooth Relic by Dantha and Hemamala, Bringing the Scared Bo Tree by Sangamitha Theri, Visit made by the Lord Buddha to Kelaniya and Nagadeepa, Embossing the sign of “Shri Pada” at Samanala Peak, Offering of Alms by Sujatha, The painting of “Wapmagula”, Offering of Alms by Soththiya, Demarcation of Boundaries of Maha Vihara,  Commencement of Bikkhunee Chapter, Buddhaghosha Thera, Saranankara Sangharaja Thera and Destruction of Kelaniya Temple by Portuguese.

Jeorge Keit

He is an artist famous worldwide who has conducted several exhibitions even in overseas. The famous paintings in Gothami Vihara of Borella can be named as some of his valuable creations.

He has used oil paintings and the style of painting reflects a very creative style.

Some of the famous paintings of Jeorge Keit are Dream of Queen Mahamaya, ladies plucking flowers, A couple, Bikkhus, The Child and Kite and several events reflecting the Buddhist history.



Maya dutu Sihinaya


David Panter

He was very much interested in natural appearances of figures in his paintings and his colour scheme is unique to him. He is treated as one of the revolutionist in Catholic Art and he is being treated as a painter who has tried to maintain the local identification of this country in Catholic paintings. The paintings at Chapel of the Trinity College Kandy depicting the Washing of feet, Successful return to Jerusalem, Burial and also the painting of crusification of Jesus on cross which has been painted at the chapel of the St. Thomas College of Mt. Lavenia are some of the paintings crated by him.

In addition to these catholic paintings he has done the paintings such as seated child, cart drivers, Gipsy of Nepal, Reapers of harvesting.

David Panter
David Panter

S.P. Charles

He is an artist belong to the 20th century and he has contributed to form the National Flag of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and for the decoration of mace of parliament. He has copied several ancient cave paintings and contributed for the conservation of them.


J.D.A. Perera

He is a scholar who has received his education in this field from foreign countries.

He is the principle at the inception of the Institute of Visual and Arts. He is one of the experts of drawing upper parts of the human body.  The painting of a female dancer, “nalagana” exhibited at the Art Gallery of Colombo is one of his great creations.

J.D.A. Perera
J.D.A. Perera

Manju Sri

He is an artist who has contributed for the conservation of most of the faded paintings during Kandyan period. He has held several exhibitions in foreign countries and some of his famous paintings are “Kapirighgha dancer”, “Dancer and the drummer”, “kanthawa (the lady).

In addition to the above artists many more of them who have contributed to the development of modern art.  They are such as Mahagama Sekara, G.S. Fernando, Wasala Mudalindu A.C.G.S. Amarasekara, Ivon Peris, J.P.Belin, Richard Gabrial, Palitha Gunasingha, Dilini Perera, Seewali Ilangasingha, Noelin Fernando and J.Wijesingha.

රිචඞ් ගේබ්රියල්

තමන්ටම ආවේණික වූ ශෛලයීන් යුතුව යුතුව නිර්මාණකරණයේ යෙදෙන මොහුගේ පළමු සිතුවම් එකතුව තිඹිරිගස්යාය ශාන්ත තෙරේසා පල්ලියේ දක්නට ලැබේ. කතෝලික කලාත්මක නිර්මාණ බොහෝමයකට දායකත්වය දරණ ලද අතර, එම නිර්මාණ ශී‍්‍ර ලාංකීය සංස්කෘතියට ගැලපෙන ලෙසින් ලාංකීයකරණය කරන ලද නිර්මාණ වීම සුවිශේෂීතාවයකි.

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1.Sri Lankan Buddhist Art –Southern Tradition by Gamini Jayasingha, Sarasawi Publisher

  1. Conventional Designs of Paintings by Sarath Anurasiri, Malpiyali Publishers

  2. Conventional designs of sculpture and paintings of temples, Nimal Karunarathna, Malpiyali Publishers

  3. History of Art of Painting, Thilakrathna Diganwela, Wasana Printers

  4. History of Art of Painting, D.M. Ubhayathunga, Malpiyali Publishers

  5. Art of Painting by Thilakrathna Diganwela, Wasana Printers

  6. Paintings of Kelaniya Temple, J.B. Disanayaka, S. Godage and Brothers

  7. Sri Lanka, Rohan Gunarathna,