W J G Beling (1907-1977)

'One of the pioneers in a more vital form of painting than that based on Royal Academy standards of taste.'

Born in 1907 in Gampola, he was exposed to the life of painting from an early age, as his father W W Beling was also a painter. Beling was more attracted to Cubism developed by Braque and Picasso.

When observing his work in the 1930s, a similarity with George Keyt in the design and composition of the painting; the densities and choice of colour and selection of topics – still life and landscapes.

However this was only the beginning and they both moved on in two very different directions.

Winzer was impressed by the two young painters, Keyt and Beling, about whom he wrote in “The Studio” magazine in 1931. He referred to them as ‘pioneers in a more vital form of painting than that based on Royal Academy standards of taste’ (Weereratne, 1993, p54).

Armand Roulin, who wrote to the “Times of Ceylon”, remarked that Beling’s work encompassed “a tenderness and simplicity and fervour that proclaim the spirital values he is now concerned about” (Weereratne, 1993, p55).

S.P. Amarasingham in the “Sunday Times” found Beling’s work hard to define. He stated ‘his lines and composition are classical and architectural. He succeeds in capturing a perticular atmosphere in such a way that it leaves an undying impression on one’s mind’. This technique can be believed to have been obtained by his early education in architecture at the Sir J.J. School of Art in Bombay.

Beling conducted joint exhibitions in 1930 and 1932 with George Keyt, and was supported by Winzer, Wendt and Len van Genyzel. In 1945, he became Chief Inspector of Art in the Education Department and stopped painting altogether. However, he worked tirelessely in the development of art education in schools based on spontaneous creative expression.

Reference: Weeraratne (1993)

Name of Exhibition Year Place
43 Group 2nd Exhibition 1944 Darley Road, Colombo
43 Group 3rd Exhibition 1945 Darley Road, Colombo
43 Group 6th Exhibition 1948 The Art Gallery, Guildford Crescent, Colombo 07
43 Group Contemporary Ceylonese Painting 1952 Imperial Institute, London
43 Group 10th Exhibition 1955 The Art Gallery, Guildford Crescent, Colombo 07
43 Group 14th Exhibition 1964 The Art Gallery, Guildford Crescent, Colombo 07
43 Group exhibition to honor George Keyt 1991 Colombo
Exhibition of the ’43 Group and Other Artists by The Taprobane Collection 2017 Nelum Arts Centre, Colombo

Other Publicaitons the Artist has been mentioned in

Name of Book Year of Publication Author Printer
Art in Sri Lanka – The Anton Wickramasinghe Collection 1988 Albert Dharmasiri ANCL – Lake House
Modern Sri Lankan Painters 1992 George Keyt Foundation Siri Printers
43 Group 1993 Neville Weereratne Lantana Publishing
Visions of an Island – Rare works from Sri Lanka in The Christopher Ondaatje Collection 1999 Neville Weereratne Harper Collins Publishers Ltd
Sketch Book 2008 - Sapumal Foundatio & Beling Familyn
Sri Lankan Painting in the 20th Century 2009 Senake Bandaranayake and Albert Dharmasiri The Nationl Trust Sri Lanka
The Heritage Albert Dharmasiri R. Rajamahendran

Ref :B 3

Title :Face of Jesus

Measurements in Cms :45.5 x 33

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Ref :B 2

Title :Captain Freeman

Measurements in Cms :76 x 55.5

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Year Institute Qualification