Senaka Senanayake

Published : 3:34 pm  June 4, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


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Senaka Senanayake is a Sri Lankan artist who attained fame early in life as a prodigy, for his works of art. He held his first international one-man exhibition at the age of ten, in New York. Although he painted copiously and held many shows both in his native country as well as abroad, it was only after he went to Yale school for graduation in Art and Architecture, did he realise that his true calling lay in the field of art. Yale, at that time was pulsating with vibrant political activities and Senaka with his family’s political background was naturally drawn to it. However, those years at Yale were more crucial for him as an artist, for till then he had been largely self taught. But at Yale, the formal classes of art training expanded his knowledge to the history of art of the entire world till then.

After moving back to Sri Lanka post Yale, Senaka immersed himself headlong into painting. His years of training at Yale had helped him evolve a mode of expression which had matured greatly. He also began to delve deeper into the various environmental issues concerning Sri Lanka. Of them, he was particularly bothered by the rapidly decreasing plight of the rain forests, and his present series of works are an attempt to engage the audiences by making them aware of this pertinent situation.

Senaka’s work has been shown in most parts of Europe and South Asia with critical acclaim. To date he has more than 100 solo shows to his credit, and numerous group shows in the countries of Europe, China, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Czechoslovakia, Korea and Egypt to name a few. His work has been documented by Metro Goldwyn, British Movieton News, BBC TV, London, Yeo Soo TV, South Korea, TV Austria,Untitled-1 and Star TV, India. Various journals, magazines and newspapers such as The New York Sunday Times, Washington Post, London Times, Weser Kurier, Germany, UNESCO Features, Paris, National Geographic Magazine, Asia Week and many others, too have devoted their mediums to document the talent and work of this august artist. Senaka lives and works
in Sri Lanka.

?You hail from a family that has been immersed in politics, how is it that you did not follow family tradition and enter politics

Only one part of my father’s family was in politics. My mother’s family was in government service and in business. I was more  interested in a world of beauty rather than that of conflict and supposed interest in social service.

?Senaka you attained fame early in life as a prodigy, for your works of art. You held your first international one- man exhibition at the age of ten, in New York. How did this come about

My talent in Art was first discovered by Mr. L.P. Gunatilleke, a leading Art Critic who was a family friend. I was invited by him to hold a solo Art Exhibition at the National Art Gallery at the age of Eight sponsored by the National Arts Council. The sales proceeds from the show went to the Royal College Swimming pool fund. A journalist from the Christian Science Monitor News Paper from USA visited the show and wrote an article about me. A leading gallery in San Diego USA picked up on it and invited me to do a solo show in  their gallery called The Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego. Due to the  success of the show I got an invitation to show in New York at the Asia House Art Gallery.



?When did you realise that your true calling lay in the field of art

After my graduation from Yale University in 1972, after majoring in Art and Architecture. The Yale experience convinced me that my calling lay in a world of creativity.


? Who or what has influenced your paintings the most
I do not have any individual who impressed me .It was special works done by Artists from the school of Impressionism , Cubism, Surrealism and Expressionism that really inspired me. The Artists would be Monet, Van Gogh, Gaugan, Picasso, Salvador Dali etc


?How many countries have you exhibited
in to date
Twenty one countries – all solo shows.


? How many exhibitions have you held to date
 One Hundred and twenty four solo shows and many mixed shows.


?How many paintings have you completed to date
I have no count as I have been exhibiting since the age of eight and now I am sixty four.


?How long do you take on an average to complete a painting
The time period for the art work varies as the size, medium, subject and mood all play a role. A painting can be done in a day or a month.


? Could you describe your process
The creative process depends on the subject matter. Usually I do a charcoal sketch on canvas and then proceed to paint with oils. My works on paper are done with either pencil or marker and painted with water colours or crayons.


?Your paintings are known for the use of vibrant colour – what is the reason for this

In recent times I have used a palette of bright and vibrant colours depicting positive and happy vibrations. I want to create a world of happiness and positivity.


?What do you regret the most in your career to date
 I have no regrets as God has been kind to me every step of my life.


?Which is your favourite amongst all your paintings and why is it so
I have no favourite paintings. Once I complete the work I do not think about it.


?You chose to remain in  Sri Lanka despite achieving international acclaim, why was this
Sri Lanka is my Inspiration and my paradise.


? Who are three people in history you admire most and why
The three people I admire most are Sri Sathiya Sai Baba, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. These spiritual people have inspired and guided me throughout my life.


?How does your wife Jennifer inspire you

Jennifer and I have been together for over forty five years. She has been my inspiration, critic and guide and I owe my success to her love and commitment to me.



? What’s the happiest or proudest moment in your life
 The happiest and proudest moments in my life were when my two children graduated from University.


?If a young person asked your advice for living a good life, what would you say
 To me a good life is one where you can get pleasure from helping others. I believe that ‘seva’ is the best tonic for a happy and fulfilling life.


?What advice did your parents give you that you best remember?
 My parents always urged me to help the needy.


?What is your goal as a parent
I would be happy if my children lead a life helping the needy.


?Who were your heroes or role models when you were a child
 My hero was Sir Garfied Sobers one of the greatest cricketers of all time.


     ?How do you like to relax
I love to play Bridge and socialize with my close friends. I also like to travel with Jennifer.