Richard Don Gabriel first made his appearance at the age of 20 when he was appointed as Art Master of St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. Through his brother Edmund, Gabriel got to know Ivan Peries which then led to him being invited to join the ’43 Group.
Gabriel worked first under Ivan Peiries and then under Harry Pieris with whom he shared a lifelong master-pupil relationship.
Following the introduction to Ivan Peries, a war-effort exhibition was organized by the Information Department in which Gabriel exhibited four works and won four prizes.
His religious background explains many phases of his work such as the bas-relief ‘Stations of the Cross’ at St. Therese’s Thimbirigasyaya; ‘The Risen Christ’ carving at the Jesuit Chapel in Bambalapitiya; the eight and a half foot high Madonna carving at the National Seminary Ampitiya, Kandy; murals at Christ the King in Pannipitiya and the Book of Etchings dedicated to death; named ‘The Cross’. The book published in 1975, ‘The Cross’ has 33 numbered copies – one for each life of Christ’s life on earth.
Gabriels work was always connected with ‘tranquil landscape in which people blended with the rich environment’. His work depicted quality of life which was gracious and was deeply dedicated to tradition. Strong, brisk drawing with energetic colour were key trademarks of his work. Geoff Beling once stated that Gabriel was ‘A consistent worker, always drawing and painting, maintaining his own vision and expression in terms of life of Ceylon’ (Weeraratne, 1993; 97).
In 1952 Richard Gabriel won a British Council scholarship and enrolled at the Chelsea School of Art, London where he also travelled to Paris and participated at the ’43 Group’s exhibition.
In recognition of his capability to record the beauty and significance of everyday life in a vivid pallette and idiom, Gabriel was awarded honorary membership in 1964 at the Florentine art Academy – founded in 1564 in honour of Michelangelo in recognition of his graphic work.
It is important to note that throughout his life time, Gabriel’s work ‘remained unchanged’ as mentioned by Professor Dissanayake. Gabriel undoubtadly agreed with this statement as he took pride in being loyal to his beleifs in art as he did in religion.
References: Prof. Dissanayake (2001-9), Weeraratne (1993) and Weeraratne (1999)
|Name of Exhibition||Year||Place|
|Ceylon War Effort Pictures||1943||Colombo|
|Inaugural Exhibition of the ’43 Group||1943||Colombo|
|Exhibition in memory of Lionel Wendt||1945||Colombo|
|Colombo Plan: International Exhibition of Paintings||1952||Colombo|
|43 Group: Contemporary Ceylonese Artists||1952||London|
|Artists for Peace Exhibition||1953||London|
|Some ’43 Group Painters||1954||Cambridge|
|6 Contemporary Ceyloneses Painters||1954||Artists International Association Gallery, London|
|28th Vennice Biennale||1956||Vennice|
|29th Vennice Biennale||1958||Vennice|
|Fifth International Biennale||1959||Sao Paolo, Brazil|
|‘Ceylon: a painters’ country’||1960||London|
|A Loan Exhibition of Commonwealth Art||1960||Norwich Castle Museum, UK|
|CANZA Exhibition of Art||1961||Colombo|
|Studio Exhibition I||1961||Colombo|
|Studio Exhibition II||1963||Colombo|
|Solo exhibition to mark the Michelangelo award||1966||Colombo|
|Studio Exhibition III||1967||Colombo|
|Mostra Internationale della Grafia||1968||Florence|
|Joint Exhibition – with Ivan Peries||1969||Colombo|
|International Exhibition of Graphic Art||1974||USA|
|The Art of Sri Lanka: Contemporary Works on Paper||1980||New Orleans, USA|
|43 Group exhibition to honor George Keyt||1991||Colombo|
|Private Exhibition||1994||Melbourne, Australia|
|Reflections: a retrospective Exhibition||1997||Colombo|
|Solo Exhibition of the art of Richard Gabriel 27 June – 7 July||2014||Alliance Francais, Kandy|
|‘Collection 43’ – Open Exhibition 10 – 12th June||2016||Sapumal Foundation, Colombo|
|Collectors’ Desk – ARTRA Magazine and Saskia Fernando Gallery – Exhibition of works of the ’43 Group 11th August||2017||One Galle Face, Colombo|
|Exhibition of the ’43 Group and Other Artists by The Taprobane Collection 20 – 22 October||2017||Nelum Arts Centre, Colombo|
|Name of Book||Year of Publication||Author||Printer|
|The Art of Richard Gabriel||1999||Neville Weereratne||Moosajees, Colombo|
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|
|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|
|Artful Resistance – Contemporary Art from Sri Lanka||2010||Edited by Sylvia S. Kasprycki and Doris I Stambra||SKF Publishers|
|Supplement to the Sapumal Foundation||2018||Rohan De Soysa||The Sapumal Foundation|
|The Heritage I, II, III||Albert Dharmasiri||R. Rajamahendran|