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Sanjeewa Kumara

Sri Lankan Contemporary Artist
Born 1971, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Lives and works in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Trained in fine arts at University of Kelaniya, Sanjeewa is a contemporary artist whose paintings are a beautiful hybrid of eastern and western styles. His artworks are self-declared 'pictures' as they transport us into a space in different time where as a painting dwells primarily on the material and surface. Use of bold, electric hued colours apart from aesthetic pleasure speak of the Srilanks? historical background and meaning of ?elf?in the southern land. Working mostly on oil paintings the artist fills the canvas with his soul till it breathes a life of its own, each picture being an intriguing piece of art.



Masters in Fine Arts (Interdisciplinary research visual arts and media), Dutch Art Institute, The Netherlands


Diploma (Painting) AKI Academy of Fine Arts, The Netherlands


Bachelors in Fine Arts (painting), Institute of Aesthetic studies in Colombo, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

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Sanjeewa has had a rich and eclectic background in art training

Sanjeeva is a Sri Lankan artist with a rich background in the arts. Bachelor of Fine Arts of the Institute of Aesthetic Studies, University of Kelaniya, Sanjeewa Kumara had his first exhibition at the Alliance Francaise in Kandy in 1996.  Since then the artist has had a string of successful showings both here and abroad.  However it was in 1999 that Sanjeewa Kumara first achieved recognition, which propelled him forward.

His transformation to his present style which he works in, probably occurred after his stint in the Netherlands, where he attended the Dutch Art Institute in Enschede and successfully obtained a Masters in Fine Arts.

Sanjeewa's work is a hybrid of Eastern and Western styles

Sanjeewa Kumara’s works have a unique visual identity which is a hybrid of eastern and western styles. He aims to create a new language of ‘Non-western Western art’ synchronizing historical elements with modern ones. Sanjeewa works by mixing historically significant and insignificant elements from different genres as well as time periods, and reshapes ideas into pictures; these are ‘hybrid’ in nature.

His pictures narrate the traditional myths and stories in a modern/ contemporary context using vibrant colours and intricate motifs. Cows, elephants, lions and deities take form of bizarre new legends against bold acid-colored backgrounds and detailed motifs, transporting the viewer into a world of folklore and mythical elements.

Silent DJ coming by sea, Sanjeewa Kumara, 140x100cm

Apsara ii, Sanjeewa Kumara, 54x64cm

Bright colours and detailed motifs as symbols mark his distinctive style

Sanjeewa's images painted delicately in bright shades of colour stand out as his own distinctive style owing to his bold range of hues, working within two different moods and emotions, painting very small images in amazing details with brush work creating filigree patterns at one time, as seen in his work titled ‘Uncanny Personality’, and bold brush work covering larger areas as seen in ‘Synthetic Room’ the artist succeeded in creating his own style of visual narration.

His other works like ‘Midnight Flower’ too is an amalgam of finely detailed and bold patches which makes his work unique and magical.

Uncanny personality, Sanjeewa Kumara, 100x150cm

He critiques the existing social structure through his paintings, which incorporate magic realism

Sanjeewa believes that paintings bear potential to breed a revolution. His thoughts on cultural issues and flawed social structure can be seen in his work series titled ‘The Tree of Life’, in which a vast collection of objects, materials and nature breathe in vibrant colours. Paintings talk of systems like health, education and transport, and the need to rebuild the country while being a continuous exploration of his chosen craft - the struggle to achieve perfection in his art.

Sanjeewa’s works hugely derive attributes from his country Sri Lanka, however his paintings do not exclusively represent exotic, primitive, decorative, modern or metaphysical narratives.

The paintings discover the real within the fantasy world. He plays with deep, profound thoughts and draws them in form of illusions giving a sense of magical fantasy to the real objects.

Overall, he is an artist who attempts to break the normative and reach out to a wider audience.

Pushing the limits, Sanjeewa Kumara, 100x80cm

His work draws elements from Sri Lankan history

According to the artist ‘Colonialism and post-colonialism raises questions about how notions of 'self ' and 'identity' have undergone deep and permanent changes because of the complex impact of Imperial cultures on native civilizations.’

His works explore profound ideas of cultural overhaul, societal decay, and identity crisis. They establish a forum to discuss these crucial issues. Through his chosen discipline of painting and drawing, he turns a critical eye to history and nationalism within the Sri Lankan framework.

Uncanny Personality, oil on canvas 110 x 150 cm 2009