Ruwan Prasanna Sri Lankan , b. 1980


“Between the world and the word/are three small shapes/the signs for ‘tree’, ‘escape’, and ‘sun”; extracted from the poem ‘Komorebi’ by Caitriona O’Reilly, is an ideal prologue to Ruwan Prasanna’s collection. Komorebi, translated as ‘the light shining through trees’, draws significant brush strokes to pause time. The multi paneled canvas captures the stages of the evening sunset when viewed from below the canopies. The essence of this collection is inspired by landscape and observation for the natural surroundings. Luminous colors of the sky and ageing leaves in the tall, old trees of Colombo are the artist’s narrative while the scale of Ruwan Prasanna’s paintings play a role in the story they tell, sequential from one to another with the synchronization of light and form at its core. 


Haptic texture patterns evolve on the surface of the canvas by the artist’s seemingly spontaneous hand of gestural brush strokes. By capturing the play of natural light with the essence of nature using colour combinations that resemble the works of abstract impressionists from the 19th century, he exaggerates his own style as a painter by continuously playing with different thickness of strokes and colours. 


Born in Sri Lanka Ruwan Prasanna followed a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Kelaniya in Colombo before leaving to pursue a career in the advertising industry. Alongside this path, he continues to pursue his work as an artist to paint an ode to the spontaneity of life. He began exhibiting his work at the Kala Pola (art market) in Colombo after which he developed the work for his first solo show at Paradise Road Galleries in 2010. The artist has since developed his practice as an abstract painter and works predominantly on large scale canvas pieces. Today his works belong to important private collections including the Galle Face Hotel, Paradise Road, Taru Villas amongst other local and international private collectors.


Prasanna’s abstract ‘Post Impressionist’ landscapes of his native Sri Lanka incorporate vibrant colors and fluid brushstrokes on large canvases represent his signature pieces.  He transitioned from a more figural approach to lyrical abstraction which are reminiscent of the works of American painter Joan Mitchell.  The chromatic intensity and modulation of tonalities imbues his work with a breezy spontaneity, and his gestural style of rapid, bravura brushstrokes adds rhythm and pulsating energy to the pictorial surface.  Prasanna’s application of pure, highly saturated pigments creates a luminescent color cascade that suggests the immediacy and contemplative nature of the artist’s observations.


Prasanna uses color to capture the fleeting motion of light and instinctively, the details enliven the canvas. Evidently, light is a predominant visual effect in these works of art. The color palette he uses to translate how sunshine filters through leaves is remarkable as it encapsulates the element of light through astute visual techniques. The orange to purple and green to red, along with the brush strokes of certain frequencies depict the relation that he creates between the Colombo cityscapes and its trees. Contradicting colors such as red and green splattered on the same canvas where the shadow of each color is mixed from pure hues of opposing colors, increases the painting’s vitality. These works of art effortlessly refresh the viewer’s mind, as the colors embrace each other as they blend in creating profound paintings. Similar to a light beam reflected through a prism, the artist attempts to demonstrate the array of colors; the rays of sun beautifully augment.