What transpired during travel to unique places in the world?

Nalin Outdoors

I had a keen interest in making art as a child growing up in Nawala, Sri Lanka. As a teenager, I started using dark pencils and India ink to sketch portraits of my father, relatives, and figures, whoever I found interesting. Guided by my aunt, Nalini Silva, a well-respected art teacher of her generation, I studied pre-classical and classical Western art using her large collection of art books. When I was choosing a discipline to study, some people told me that “making art will not get you a living”. Despite my enthusiasm, I was not fully prepared to follow my creative passion and had conflicting anxieties about whether I was capable enough to succeed. Ultimately, I was overcome with discouragement and pushed the idea back. Art became the shadow of my career.

From studying aeronautical engineering to pursuing public policy and management, I was moulded into a technologist by my education and formal jobs. Some years after embarking on this professional path, I found myself travelling as an international civil servant working for the United Nations. Despite my demanding career, my passion for the creative remained strong and indeed never stopped developing. This desire and this love of art kept me learning about different artists from various periods and styles from the classical to the postmodern. In my spare time between working hours and home, I started creating figurative paintings and building a body of abstract expressionistic work — an “atonement’’ for my inner desire that allowed me to maintain my attraction to abstraction.

During my UN appointments, I travelled to Croatia, Rwanda, Angola, Kosovo, Iraq, and Lebanon, among other intriguing places. Driven by my interest in art, I took the opportunity to visit historical places in each of these countries. Fascinated by the abundance of art, history, and culture, I was attracted to anything that appeared old, decayed, and beaten up by the weather or the elements or time. I imagined the natural and organic evolutions of monuments and walls and imagined the inherited stories within. I started painting abstractions of what I saw and remembered of those places.

In 2017, my wife Celine and I were exposed to cold wax and oil mixed media in contemporary works for the first time. Our first hands-on experience was in Drezzo, Italy, during a week-long workshop on cold wax and oil conducted by Rebecca Crowell and Jerry McLaughlin. This opened my eyes to a new way of painting. Cold wax and oil brings out unusual textures, expressions, and surface subtleties and offers the possibility of painting contrasting markings and working with aberrations on the painted surface itself. Having worked in a variety of media since childhood, I found that cold wax and oil is undoubtedly an exciting painting medium.

This new medium dramatically changed the way I create art. I am now able to bring out textures, designs, and forms easily, the way I always dreamt of. Being passionate about abstract expressionism, I wish to draw the viewer’s attention to the sense of fragility, the mysteries of identity, and the connecting stories within my paintings. With cold wax, I am able to bring out the extraordinary energy from my mind in the form and content of my paintings, as well as the layers that I can activate on the surfaces that can be scratched back to uncover historical layers and perspectives. All my abstract expressionistic work is now exclusively created using the cold wax medium with oil paint, pigment bars, solvents, and much more to achieve a unique richness in my paintings. Though cold wax was used in ancient times, the process of using cold wax as a painting medium still remains relatively uncommon in most regions of the world.

Hiking in Grindelwald

Enjoying moments hiking in Grindelwald.