Segar’s 26th one man exhibition
by "Shopiha"

"Creativity is a celebration of life — my celebration of life. It is a bold statement: I am here! I live life I love me! I can be anything! I can do anything!" says Joseph Zinker. This is true in the life Segar. Though the discovery of his inborn talent came later in his life, since then his life had been changed because of his creativity. His passion for painting, which is his distinctive nature, has put him in the forefront of being one of the best Sri Lankan professional painters of the age.

The biography of his becoming what he is today is awesome. His incipient career had been an accountant and then a public relations officer at the Elephant House in the early eighties. "A promising professional" that was how he was known to his employers there. This position paved way for coming in contact with the people, as he listened to their complaints and stories. This also gave him the chance to come to awareness that he belongs to a community that he participates with others in life’s task. As an artist, he wanted to see the world and human character with a clear and realistic gaze.

The leisure time was a time of self-discovery and adventure towards the noble creativity of art the nonverbal language of the inner world. One fine day of June, the month of goddess Juno, one of his friends approached him for his suggestion of something to place in the church sale. The idea sprouted was the hand made greetings cards, made during his leisure. The surprise remark of his friend on seeing the beautiful artistic greeting cards was "...Segar, you don’t belong here!" The realization of his hidden talent discovered gave him the urge to produce more painting cards.

His first painting was the ‘fish monger’, who stopped by at his dwelling daily. This showed that Segar was a people oriented person, and most of his painting., still reflects this aspect. Segar could not resist the temptation of framing the "fish monger". He hid his creation, fearing the pessimistic remark of his family members. The disappointment of the cynical comment by his mother; "what a waste of the glass and the frame" made him so angry that he dumped the painting into the garbage. But the urge was so strong that he obeyed his inclination to paint more and more. His ability got refined as he used his biology and chemistry notebooks to sketch human figures in different life styles and actions. More and more paintings on greeting cards were the outcome of his hard work. They took the places in the shelves of the famous bookshops like Tabrobane and Lake House. The demand was such, that he declined being an employee of the Elephant House to a self-taught modem artist.

Donavan, the Dutch connoisseur valued his painting so much that he bought his first painting. The gratefulness is reflected on naming his boy child after him. A couple of his paintings occupied the space of art gallery of the renowned artist Senake Senanayake. The enthusiastic young artist in a week’s time found that his painting was missing. Nevertheless he was overwhelmed with joy to know that it was sold. Here began his carrier.

Unlike the artists who were inclined to draw traditionally devout religious art and iconography, he followed the modern artists who are free now to choose from a bewildering variety of art styles: realism, impressionism, expressionism, surrealism, cubism, abstraction, abstract expressionism, pop-art, neo-realism and so on. In the process Segar originated his own style "refrective effects in cubism" as his famous subjects were physics and mathematics. (Refraction of light when it travels thru different density)

The age of traditional art seems past and some have spoken of the "eclipse of symbolism".

When Segar took painting as his profession, he began to study its mode and style all by himself. His interest in photography and plastic arts urged him to the habit of reading a lot on painting from the Encyclopedias. This with his almost total adoration of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, provided the necessary frame work for a self disciplined study and practice of the art. Shades of amber toning into subtle yellow and brown are Segar’s forte in blending colour. There are reproduction of his works in t-shirts, greeting cards, bed sheets and tablecloths, with and without the artist’s consent.

Segar’s paintings are an unusual visual experience in that they are a combination of realistic and abstract. The angular lines reflect Cubism, which has its roots in Paris. The real style of his paintings is ‘figurative cubism’ he says. The philosophy behind his style of art, even to the extent of tracing the evolution of his love for cubism goes to his early days of ‘cramped living’ in a housing estate in Colombo. However He faithfully holds on to his style and gives the reason that a professional painter, if goes on changing his style, would loose his identity.

Segar loves the works of artist Ganesh Pyne of India and Vincent Manansala of Philippine. He derives his inspiration from life, and tries to depict his emotional feelings through colour and composition. Like many other artists of his ilk, Segar is somewhat temperamental at times. It is said that he used to throw away or destroy his own paintings when he found them loathsome. He tries to express his feeling of anger and disappointments in his painting.

For his subjects, like Tea Pluckers, Weavers and Dancers, he uses a fair degree of stylization. Painting oriental women has been his favourites theme. Among many of his other paintings are women in various moods. He makes triangular shapes lock into one another, to meaningfully break up the human anatomy in an effective manner. During 1992, in an interview with a newspaper Segar made his comment about the paintings of the Sri Lankan artists not being taken the place of the cover page even in the Asian edition of the Reader’s Digest. It was such a coincidence that his painting titled "Three Tea Pluckers" appeared in the back cover of February 1998 issue of Reader’s Digest, along with his photograph in the 2nd page. Regarding international recognition of Sri Lankan art Segar said that Sotheby art auction in London has the paintings of the modem artists in India. Other than Keyt and Ivan, even the work of past Lankan painters failed to appear in the international art auctions. His desire is that the paintings of the living Sri Lankan artists should also be promoted in the international art auctions such as Sotheby and Christie’s in New York.

The nonverbal creativity of art has evolved long ago and it has a long way to go. Segar is one of those who have contributed to the evolution of the age and this is his 26th one-man show. which will be on from Wednesday, the October 20th 2004 at the Felix Gallery, 75 Alexandra Place, Colombo 7.


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