“A painting is the sum of destructions” a dictum of Picaasso exemplified Justin Daraniyagala’s work. Behind every painting of Daraniyagala exists ghosts of many others, as it has undergone many trials which have been scratched off or rubbed down, until they had achieved his purpose. The results can be exhilarating or discomforting as you encounter his vigorous brush strokes and paint blobs upon the canvas.
Daraniyagala’s paintings are highly charged emotionally. The result is a highly vigorous application of paint on to the canvas. His feelings become mixed with the technicalities of painting, the paint brush, palette knife or the artist's naked fingers.
He was also occasionally into work in ceramics.
Over the years, Daraniyagala had observed that many artists seem to concerntrate on the middle of the canvas, which he found quite unsatisfactory. He therefore took his paintings to the very edge of his canvas. Another concern of his was the hidden side of an object, perticularly in the painting of the head as in portraits.
Daraniyagala was born in 1903, and had an early art education at the Mudaliyar Amarasekera’s Atelier Art School in Colombo. Following studies at Trinity College, Cambridge, between 1922-1927, he was fortified by Augustus John to study art at Slad School of Art, London (1926-27). In 1928 he joined the Academie of Julian in Paris.
Daraniyagala’s work was seen in London in Leicester Galleries in 1934-35 where it was favourably received by famous critics such as Eric Newton and Jan Gordon. Thereafter he again exhibited his work in 1937-38 at the Leicester and Redfern Galleries, and had a one-man show at the Adams Galleries. The Adams Galleries were critically an unqualified success, which led to his paintings being bought privately by Monroe Wheeler (Former Director of exhibitions, Museum of Modern Art, New York). In 1956 Daraniyagala exhibited at Vennice Biennale and was awarded UNESCO prize for painting ‘The Fisherman’ reproduced by New York Graphic Society.
Justin Daraniyagala’s style was compared gratifyingly with that of the English artist Sutherland by Eric Newton in the London “Sunday Times”. He stated that Daraniyagala ‘roughly spoke the sophisticated language as Mr. Sutherland’ (Weereratne,1993, p79).
John Berger, the art critic on the “New Statesman and Nation”, was convinced of the value of Daraniyagala’s work. He wrote ‘Like the Indonesian Affandi, he is an expressionist. … he is able to use the license of expressionism to emphasize the condense associations, fears and hopes that have a far wider validity’. In Sri Lanka, Fred de Silva who wrote for the “Times of Ceylon”, following the 43 Group’s ninth exhibition in 1954, that Daraniyagala’s work to him was ‘most impressive, though a little hard of viewing’ (Weereratne, 1993, p87).
Most outstanding of all comments was the great statement made by the French art critic, Georges Besson, writing after the Petit Palais showing of the Group. Writing in 1953 issue of “Les Lettres Francaises”, he said, “This realist painter, this man of vision from Ceylon, with his extraordinary range of colour, this Daraniyagala, whose name we should all remember will be known now on as one of the important revelations of our time” (Weereratne, 1993, p88).
References: Weeraratne (1993) and Prof S.B. Dissanayake (2001-9)
|Name of Exhibition||Year||Place|
|Two Man Exhibition with George Keyt||1936||The Art Gallery, Colombo|
|Exhibition||c.1937-1938||Leicester, Redfern Galleries and Adams Galleries, United Kingdom|
|45th Exhbition: Ceylon Society of Arts||1940||The Art Gallery, Colombo|
|43 Group 2nd Exhibition||1944||Darley Road, Colombo|
|43 Group 3rd Exhibition||1945||Darley Road, Colombo|
|43 Group 4th Exhibition||1946||Darley Road, Colombo|
|43 Group 5th Exhibition||1947||Guildford Crescent, Colombo|
|43 Group 7th Exhibition||1949||Guildford Crescent, Colombo|
|43 Group 8th Exhibition: The Art Gallery||1950||Guildford Crescent, Colombo|
|43 Group Contemporary Ceylonese Painting||1952||Imperial Institute, London|
|Artists for Peace Exhibition||1953||London|
|Exposition de L’Art Contemporain de Ceylan||1953||Petit Palais, Paris|
|Justin Pieris Daraniyagala – Drawings & Paintings (1935 – 1953)||1954||London|
|Exhibition of Contemporary Painters from Ceylon||1954||The Heffer Gallery Cambridge|
|Exhibited by Special Inviation||1955||Pittsburgh International Exhibition, USA|
|43 Group 10th Exhibition: The Art Gallery||1955||Colombo|
|43 Group 11th Exhibition||1956||The Art Gallery, Guildford Crescent, Colombo|
|Exhibition of Contemporary Paintings and Drawings from Ceylon||1956||Arts Council Gallery, Cambridge|
|The 28th International Biennale||1956||Vennice|
|43 Group 12th Exhibition||1957||The Art Gallery, Guildford Crescent, Colombo|
|Fifth International Biennale||1959||Sao Paolo, Brazil|
|43 Group 13th Exhibition||1959||The Art Gallery, Guildford Crescent, Colombo|
|43 Group 14th Exhibition||1964||The Art Gallery, Guildford Crescent, Colombo|
|43 Group 16th Exhibition||1967||The Art Gallery, Guildford Crescent, Colombo|
|Justin Pieris Daraniyagala – Retrospective Exhibition||1968||The Art Gallery, Colombo|
|43 Group exhibition to honor George Keyt||1991||Colombo|
|Justin Daraniyagala – A Retrospective||1992||The National Art Gallery, Colombo|
|Exhibition of the ’43 Group and Other Artists by The Taprobane Collection||2017||Nelum Arts Centre, Colombo|
|Name of Book||Year of Publication||Author||Printer|
|Justin Daraniyagala||1992||The George Keyt Foundation|
|Justin Daraniyagala - Paintings & Drawings Exhibition Catalouge||1992||Deutsche Bank|
|Justin Daraniyagala 1902-1967||2011||Arjun Daraniyagala||-|
Other Publicaitons the Artist has been mentioned in
|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|
|Moods and Modes – 50 years of Sri Lankan Painting||1999||Martin Russel, Nihal Rodrigo, Ellen Dissanayake, S.B. Dissanayake||The George Keyt Foundation / Aitken Spence Printing|
|Visions of an Island – Rare works from Sri Lanka in The Christopher Ondaatje Collection||1999||Neville Weereratne||Harper Collins Publishers Ltd|
|The Presidential Collection – Contemporary Sri Lankan Art||2008||Presidential Secretariat|
|Sri Lankan Painting in the 20th Century||2009||Senake Bandaranayake and Albert Dharmasiri||The Nationl Trust Sri Lanka|
|Supplement to the Sapumal Foundation||2018||Rohan De Soysa||The Sapumal Foundation|
|The Heritage I, II, III||-||Albert Dharmasiri||R. Rajamahendran|