Stanley Kirinde (1930)

His understanding of the latest intellectual and artistic currents of the day is combined with a great feeling for his country and a special insight into his heritage and way of life. It is this duality of past and present which makes his work so unique, rendering it classical and modern, traditional yet at the same time contemporary. To see Sri Lanka through Kirinde’s eyes is to dip into a repository of fact, folklore and feeling, enriched by brilliant colour and enhanced by exquisite line.”

Stanley Kirinde is a Sri Lankan painter who was born as Sarathchandra Madduma Bandara Wickremasinghe Kirinde in Deegala, Kandy in 1930. He received his primary and secondary education from Trinity College, Kandy and went on to study History at the University of Ceylon in 1950. Kirinde showed an interest in art from his early years as he enjoyed painting and sketching at art lessons given at school. Lakshman Kadirgamar, a friend and classmate, remembered him as a child prodigy: “we stood around him spellbound as he sketched, drew and painted in watercolors and oil, effortlessly, day after day, with an astonishing clarity and command of style for one so young. As he won every class prize in art and at a young age competed successfully in national competitions, he became to us a heroic figure able to do what none of the others could aspire to achieve.” This childhood hobby eventually became a lifelong passion that gave Kirinde legitimacy and recognition internationally as a representative of the growing Sri Lankan visual art context. 

While working as an administrative officer for the government, he exhibited his works in Sri Lanka, as well as in Japan, USA, UK, Bangladesh, Brazil and Singapore. His works are a part of many private collections, including the President’s House in Colombo and Kandy, as well as the collection of the Prince of Wales. In 2000, Kirinde was commissioned to do a portrait of HE the President of India, Sri K.R. Narayan. In 2005, Kirinde received the national honour of “Deshabandu” from the President of Sri Lanka. He died peacefully at his residence in Battaramulla in 2009. 

Kirinde leaves an invaluable legacy of paintings for younger generations to engage with. His early works are a reflection of the simplicity and beauty of the rural and village lifestyle he was brought up in. “Village Scene” (1952) is an oil on canvas that depicts a group of men, women and children engaging in different activities of rural life: a man driving a bullock cart, a boy plucking coconuts from a tree and several women and children gathering firewood for the week. The image of the traditional Sri Lankan woman in her redde and hatte (cloth and jacket) or the pleated Kandyan sari is iconic and poignant, as it recreates an essence, as well as nostalgia, associated with that of the Sri Lankan pastoral. The lush vegetation and greenery surrounding these characters are the epitome of the Kandyan landscape. The painting is one of many in which it is evident that Kirinde drew inspiration from the style of murals that dominated the Kandyan Era of rule in Ceylon; these murals would narrate a story of Buddhist origin with interesting characters highlighted with vivid, bright colours (often red, yellow and white) spreading alongside decorative patterns of different shapes.
Art writer and critic SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda compares these early works of Kirinde to the works of Paul Gauguin, who often painted his memories of Tahiti, suggesting that the focus on “human activity amidst uncorrupted natural surroundings” manifests a common need to capture “a tropical paradise enriched by gorgeous colour.” “Bathers” (1952) is another painting that was created during his university years, which carries influences of both local and western art. 

During his university years Kirinde took an interest in the human figure, inspired by Renaissance painters Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. He developed several sketches, improving his attention to detail with careful manipulation of the pencil. His “Study of a Man’s Back” (1945) is one such early rendition, which follows Michelangelo’s style of red chalk studies, focusing on the bones and muscles of the back of a man, rather than his front appearance.  He was also a well-known portrait artist, having experimented with self-portrait and portraits of members of his family for decades. His depictions of his wife Iranganie Kirinde are still recognized to be some of his finest. “Girl Sewing” (1970) portrays his wife as he first saw her, exuding freshness and an uncorrupt elegance, depicted mainly by the use of pastel colours such as pink, green, turquoise and creamy white. “Dressing of the Bride” (1978) is another portrait he did of his wife getting ready for their wedding, where there is an undeniable emphasis on her features and the fineness of the Kandyan bridal attire with a great amount of detail. 

The 43 Group, who pioneered Sri Lankan modernist art, introduced Kirinde to the world of modern art as a young boy of thirteen. He exhibited several paintings at their exhibitions and learned about the art industry under the guidance of Harry Pieris, George Keyt and Justin Daraniyagala. Inspired by Daraniyagala’s expressionistic creations, Kirinde painted “Conversation Piece” (1964), containing a portrait of a person with distorted features in a dark background, complemented by colours such as dark brown and yellow. He also experimented with Keyt’s style of Cubism, using geometrical shapes to build the silhouettes of the characters in paintings such as “Woman Draping her Sari” (1967). Combining these different styles Kirinde evolved his own distinctive style, which he explored and perfected through his depiction of landscapes, bodies and practices he intended as expressions of his ‘Sri Lanka’.

During his latter years, Kirinde drew ideas from Mughal paintings, approaching art as an attractive but simple form with messages and meanings that could be easily conveyed to a wider audience. Adopting this style, Kirinde began storytelling through art that explored literary, poetic and religious themes. The illustrations he did for the 8th edition of Marie Musaeus Higgins’ Stories from the History of Ceylon (1909, reprinted in 1999) are an example of this unique style. He further explored storytelling when he started drawing Buddhist Jataka Stories using the medium of miniature art. In the 1980s until the late 2000s, as a response to the ethnic conflict that devastated the country, Kirinde created work that represented the Buddhist philosophy of tolerance and forgiveness. 

Name of Exhibition Year Place
9th Exhibition of the 43 Group 1955 National Art Gallery, Sri Lanka. 
10th Exhibition of the 43 Group 1955 National Art Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Exhibition of Paintings 1958 University of Peradeniya, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
Exhibition of Paintings 1959 Senate Room, University of Peradeniya, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
14th Exhibition of the 43 Group 1964 Lionel Wendt Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Joint exhibition with Dr. Siri Gunasinghe and Kulanatha Senadheera 1967 -
Exhibition of Paintings 1967 Lionel Wendt Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka. 
Exhibition of Paintings 1969 Alliance Francaise de Kandy, Kandy, Sri Lanka. 
Exhibition of Paintings 1970 University of Peradeniya, Kandy, Sri Lanka. 
Exhibition of Paintings 1970 Samudra Gallery, Kandy, Sri Lanka. 
“Art of Sri Lanka” organized by the Smithsonian Institution (Traveling exhibition) 1979 USA
Festival of Contemporary Asian Art 1980 Fukuoka, Japan.
Exhibition of Paintings 1980 Alliance Francaise de Kandy, Kandy, Sri Lanka. 
Asian Art Show 1981 Bangladesh
“Contemporary Painting in Sri Lanka” 1981 Commonwealth Institute, London, UK. 
Exhibition of Paintings 1983 Sapumal Foundation, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Exhibition of Paintings 1985 Alliance Francaise de Kandy, Kandy, Sri Lanka. 
Exhibition of Paintings 1987 The British Council, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Exhibition of Paintings 1990 Alliance Francaise de Kandy, Kandy, Sri Lanka. 
Exhibition of Paintings 1996 The British Council, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
Exhibition of Paintings 1998 University Arts Council, Arts Faculty Seminar Room, University of Peradeniya, Kandy, Sri Lanka. 
“Reflections on Sigiriya” 1998 Mountcastle Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
“A Classical Vision” 1999 Gallery 706, Colombo, Sri Lanka. 
“Tradition and Modernity” 2000 Indian Cultural Centre, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
“Celebrating National Day” 2003 Sri Lanka Institute of International Relations, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Other Publicaitons the Artist has been mentioned in

Name of Book Year of Publication Author Printer

Ref :KND 1

Title :Highway Workers - Polonnaruwa

Signed :Lower Left

Year :1957

Measurements in Cms :58 x 78

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :58 x 78

Ref :KND 2

Title :Burmese Priest – Ven U Kauweingasara

Signed :Lower Right

Year :1948 - 50

Measurements in Cms :60 x 50

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :60 x 50

Ref :KND 3

Title :Red Vase and Wood Roses

Signed :Lower Right

Year :1967 - 68

Measurements in Cms :72 x 59.5

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :72 x 59.5

Ref :KND 4

Title :Men & Tractors

Signed :Lower Right

Year :1957 - 58

Measurements in Cms :60 x 80

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :60 x 80

Ref :KND 5

Title :Self Portrait

Signed :Lower Right

Year :1951- 52

Measurements in Cms :52.5 x 37.5

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :52.5 x 37.5

Ref :KND 6

Title :Lady in Blue - Irangani Kirinde

Signed :Lower Right

Year :1958

Measurements in Cms :60.2 x 45.5

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :60.2 x 45.5

Ref :KND 7

Title :Asadisi Jathakaya

Signed :Lower Left

Year :1996

Measurements in Cms :185 x 216

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :185 x 216

Ref :KND 8

Title :Kirdu Jathakaya

Signed :Lower Left

Year :2003

Measurements in Cms :122 x 76

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :122 x 76

Ref :KND 10

Title :Battle of Danture

Signed :Lower Right

Year :1990

Measurements in Cms :126 x 203

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :126 x 203

Ref :KND 14

Title :Village Headmen At Work

Signed :Lower Left

Year :1960

Measurements in Cms :78.8 x 87.1

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :78.8 87.1

Ref :KND 15

Title :Ravi Drawing

Signed :Upper Left

Year :1966

Measurements in Cms :54 x 57.4

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :54 x 57.4

Ref :KND 16

Title :Ravi Under the Table Lamp

Signed :Lower Right

Year :1960

Measurements in Cms :60 x 51.4

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :60 x 51.4

Ref :KND 20

Title :Hunasgiriya & Knuckles

Signed :Lower Left

Year :1990

Measurements in Cms :55 x 106.5

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :55 x 106.5

Ref :KND 21

Title :Bathers at a Well

Signed :Lower Left

Year :1990

Measurements in Cms :91.5 x 121.5

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :91.5 x 121.5

Ref :KND 41

Title :Thuranga Vannama

Signed :Lower Right

Year :2000

Measurements in Cms :25.5 x 19

Material Used :Water Colour on Paper

Dimensions in Cms. :25.5 x 19

Ref :KND 43

Title :Gajaga Vannama

Signed :Lower Right

Year :2000

Measurements in Cms :25.5 x 19

Material Used :Water Colour

Dimensions in Cms. :25.5 x 19

Ref :KND 49

Title :Development of Aviation (Preliminary Water Colour Sketch for Painting at Air Force Base - Colombo)

Signed :Lower Right

Year :1982

Measurements in Cms :49.5 x 33.5

Material Used :Oil & Water Colour on Paper

Dimensions in Cms. :49.5 x 33.5

Ref :KND 54

Title :Flute Player

Signed :Lower Left

Year :1963

Measurements in Cms :80 x 63

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :80 x 63

Ref :KND 57

Title :King and Dascon Adigar

Signed :Lower Right

Year :2002

Measurements in Cms :121 x 198

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :121 x 198

Ref :KND 79

Title :Ummagga Jathakaya Colombo

Signed :Lower Left

Year :1990

Measurements in Cms :65.5 x 98

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :65.5 x 98

Ref :KND 85

Title :Mayura Sandeshaya

Signed :Lower Left

Measurements in Cms :49.5 x 31.5

Material Used :Water Colour on Paper

Ref :KND 87

Title :Vishvamitra & The Sage Visishthe

Signed :Lower Left

Year :2002

Measurements in Cms :122 x 98

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :122 x 98

Ref :KND 90

Title :Girls Stepping into Paddy Fields

Signed :Lower Right

Year :2003

Measurements in Cms :145 x 94

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :145 x 94

Ref :KND 93

Title :Radha & Krishna

Signed :Lower Left

Year :2004

Measurements in Cms :128 x 72

Material Used :Oil on Canvas

Dimensions in Cms. :128 72

Ref :KND 141

Title :Two Men

Signed :Lower Left

Year :1964

Measurements in Cms :30.5 x 35

Material Used :Water Colour on Paper

Dimensions in Cms. :30.5 x 35

Ref :KND 29

Title :Sigiriya Landscape

Signed :Lower Left

Year :1997

Measurements in Cms :36.5 x 54.5

Material Used :Water Colour on Paper

Dimensions in Cms. :36.5 x 54.5

Ref :KND 30

Title :Sigiriya Landscape

Signed :Lower Left

Year :1997

Measurements in Cms :54 x 36.5

Material Used :Water Colour on Paper

Dimensions in Cms. :54 x 36.5

Year Institute Qualification
1950 University of Ceylon, Sri Lanka.  BA (Hons) in History