The oceanic vessels, allow for another point of view: the canvases are maps, with the landmass represented by the flowery vegetation that cluster together, and the acrylic background of black, blue, brown, pink, as the ocean, further demarcated by these tiny ship motifs, much like in ancient cartographic representations. As R L Brohier writes, “old maps… are embellished… with illustrations of great beauty, showing landscape, fauna and groups of inhabitants”.
As you enter the wild terrain in the paintings of Taprobane – as a traveler, having crossed the beach – the only way to enter an island as Greg Dening points out, is to note the diversity, plurality, co-existence in the natural world. The environmental thrust of the visual depictions is significant within the context of our ‘resplendent’ past as well as the turbulent present.
As the ships possibly circumnavigate, and the traveler enters within, we see the continual movement, in and out, also circular, and the resultant intermingling. Nature and the environment feature large in these canvases, and add optimism, a hope for the future. Through the many journeys that are undertaken or envisaged, the varied places visited, the need to embrace the environment and ensure its flourished presence is an all-encompassing theme.
As writer and activist Arundhati Roy asserts in her text, The End of Imagination, “There is beauty yet in this brutal, damaged world of ours. Hidden, fierce, immense. Beauty that is uniquely ours and beauty that we have received with grace from others, enhanced, reinvented and made our own. We have to seek it out, nurture it, love it.”
- Gaya Nagahawatta