A photographer, musician, critic and patron of the arts; Lionel Wendt was a key figure in the promotion of contemporary art and aesthetic in Sri Lanka. The now famous Lionel Wendt Memorial Arts Centre was built on the property he occupied during his brief lifetime. Thousands flock to this centre for the arts in search of that inward content and peace to which Wendt dedicated his property.
His importance was also observed by Basil Wright who was the producer of the now highly acclaimed documentay, Song of Ceylon in 1934. Wright had said that without Wendt there would have been no film.
W.J. Archer claims that ‘ Wendt undoubtedly played a cruicial role in Keyt’s development – partly by encouraging him with patronage, partly through his passionate adhesion to modern art’(Weereratne, 1993;p39).
This passion gave him the capacity to hold together the highly individualistic persons who formed the ’43 Group.
L.C. van Geyzel draws the conclusion in ‘Wendt’s Ceylon’ (Lincolns-Prager, 1950), that although Wendt was called to the Bar ‘it would seem that he had to be an artist and nothing else, and only then his remakable talents come into play’ (Weereratne, 1993;p40).
Wendt was looking for an appropriate means of interpreting Sri Lanka and her people. In 1938, he held a one-man show in London sponsored by Ernst Leitz of the celebrated Leica Company.
Upon Wendt’s death at the age of 44 in the year 1944, it was predicted that it could be the end of the ’43 Group. However the Group, marked the event with its 3rd exhibition and dedicated it to Wendt.
It is appropriate to ponder in the words of Wendt on a scroll of his dedication to the arts centre that bears his name: "May all honest endeavour in the service of beauty flourish therein and win its reward of inward content and the peace that is only in ceaseless effort". (Weereratne, 1993;p37).
References: Weeraratne (1993)
|Name of Exhibition||Year||Place|
|Various Exhibitions||c.1934-1944||Art gallery Colombo, USA, Asia and England, Camera club London|
|Inaugaral Exhibition with 12 other photographers||1934||Colombo|
|One-man photographic exhibition in England on the invitation of Messrs Leitz||1938||United Kingdom|
|Exhibition for the Opening of the Lionel Wendt Memorial Centre||1959||Lionel Wendt Memorial Centre, Colombo|
|Exhibition||1970||Town Hall, Colombo|
|Exhibition in corporation with the Deutsche Bank||1994||Lionel Wendt Centre, Colombo|
|Exhibition||1999||Paradise Road, Colombo|
|Paris Photo Fair organized by International European Salon of Photography||1999||Lourve, France|
|Exhibition||2000||Lionel Wendt Centre, Colombo|
|Exhibition at the Fukoka Asian Art Museum||2003||Japan|
|Documenta 14||2017||Athens, Greece|
|Retrospective Exhibition||2017||Huise Marsellie, Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|Lionel Wendt Exhibition||2017||Harold Peiris Gallery, Colombo|
|Exhibition of the ’43 Group and Other Artists by The Taprobane Collection||2017||Nelum Arts Centre, Colombo|
|Photographs Exhibited all year round at Ton Peek||-||Utrecht, Netherlands|
|Photography Exhibited all year round at Jhaveri Contemporary||-||Mumbai, India|
|Name of Book||Year of Publication||Author||Printer|
|Lionel Wendt's Ceylon||1950||Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund||Lincolns-Prager Publishers Ltd|
|Lionel Wendt Photographs||1994||Albert Dharmasiri||Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund|
|Lionel Wendt - A Centennial Tribute||2000||Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund||Ceylon Printers Ltd|
|Lionel Wendt - Art and Life||2017||Sampath Bandara Translated by Vijita Fernando||Neo Graphics (Pvt) Ltd|
|Lionel Wendt - Ceylon||2017||Shanay Jhaveri, Stephen Sanders, Nicky van Banning||Fw Books|
Other Publicaitons the Artist has been mentioned in
|43 Group||1993||Neville Weereratne||Lantana Publishing|
|Name of Documentary||Year of Production|
|The Song of Ceylon||1934|