Saturday Magazine

Tissa Hewavitarane - World Artist from Sri Lanka

By Kalakeerthi Edwin Ariyadasa

Numerous Sri Lankans migrate to Middle Eastern territories lured by the dream to make a fortune. This is very much a common practice for a considerable number of Sri Lankans nowadays.

But, an outstanding Sri Lankan, who travelled to the Middle-East propelled initially by the popular urge, set up a record which is a first for a Sri Lankan migrating to those regions.

The person I have in mind is Tisssa Hewavitarane, who earned an extensive reputation in Bahrain, as a much publicized artist. His story is in a way, quite akin to the legend of a Prince of the Middle-East. The Prince went in search of a sheep that had strayed from his herd. But, in his search for the lost sheep, he discovered an entirely new kingdom.

In Bahrain, where he went as a draughtsman, Tissa became fascinated by the allure of persons and sights of that place. The quaint and archaic buildings, people going about their routine activities, men practising traditional arts and crafts, caught the fancy of Tissa, the sensitive artist.

He captured all these in eloquent water colours. Tissa’s feeling for these picturesque places and individuals raised ripples in the minds of the people of that land. They began to see their own home, through the eyes of artist Tissa. These paintings, perhaps made them see themselves in a fresh light.

The outcome of all this was the popularity that Tissa achieved among the lovers of art and culture in that land.

His exhibitions in Bahrain were generally well attended and the press in that country reported that art-lovers acquired his works with an impressive enthusiasm and avidity. In a kind of unusual ‘encore’ for artworks, there were some occasions when viewers of his paintings demanded copies of favourite works that had already been sold.

While in Bahrain, Tissa acquired the reputation of being the recorder in water colours of the culture and heritage of that land.

Tissa Hewavitarane’s art is distinguished by sensitive portrayals of people and places. His works could be described as romantically realistic - as he adds a touch of feeling while portraying things and life with authenticity.

Tissa’s artistic expressions extend to the field of caricature as well. He regularly contributed caricatures to newspapers in Bahrain.

Tissa started his painting long before he travelled to Bahrain. He was educated at S. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia in Sri Lanka. He took to painting while he was still a student.

In his water colours, Tissa exhibits an appealing serenity. Whatever the subject matter, his paintings are soothing and tranquilizing.

He has a keen eye for situations that qualify to be captured in water colour. He perceives the inner soul of people and places. His works are compelling as ‘pretty pictures’. Tissa’s greeting cards too possess high appeal.

Tissa has not held an exhibition of his works in Sri Lanka in recent times. He has held exhibitions in West Germany.

The exhibition of his paintings scheduled to be held at Lanka Oberoi from the 23rd to the 26th of November will provide an opportunity to see Tissa’s multi-faceted art. The exhibition is titled ‘Between Two Worlds’. But, in effect his works stem from many worlds - because he is sensitive to people and places everywhere.

Artist Tissa Hewavitarane should start making a water colour record of his own ancient land - Sri Lanka. This will invariably constitute a life-long mission.