An interesting exhibition of stained glass and oil paintings by Sri Lankan artist, Saman Leema Perera is on at the Abu Dhabi Health and Fitness Club recently. Saman has also produced four special stained glass paintings to commemorate Valentine's Day, which coincides with the last day of her exhibition - today.

By Anupama V. Chand

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Published: Sat 14 Feb 2004, 3:18 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:34 AM

The exhibition was opened by Sri Lankan ambassador, Lalith Hettiarachchi, on February 4 to coincide with the Sri Lankan National Day. This is the artist's first-ever solo endeavour in the UAE, and is titled Welcome to My World. It showcases Sri Lanka's picturesque landscapes, customs and traditions, and the quintessential Sri Lankan way of life, which the artist feels are fast disappearing, caught up as the island nation is in the race for modernisation and progress.

The Valentine's Day pictures are a blaze of vibrant colour, featuring couples in romantic postures, and are somewhat different from the artist's otherwise down-to-earth characters.

"I have attempted to present vignettes of Sri Lankan daily life, the women at work, the wildlife, flora and fauna, I wish to preserve such work for posterity, I am sure when my children are older, they will not be able to see such images in reality," she said.

She reminisced that her art was really the result of her childhood attachment and inspiration drawn from the wild natural beauty that surrounded the village where her parents lived. A journalist by profession and an artist by choice, she has lived in Abu Dhabi for 16 years now, and is a completely self-taught painter, resorting to books to learn the fine technique that stained glass work requires.

"I prefer to call my work mosaic on glass, because I use all kinds of geometric shapes in my work, with subjects ranging from a couple embracing, to a beautiful landscape, to dolphins or swans in their natural environs, to still life, such as grapes in a vineyard," Ms. Perera said.

She added that this technique was particularly time consuming, as once the sketch and the outline are done, the paint has to be applied drop by drop to the surface. The end results are stunning, and the glass paintings are versatile enough to shape them into coffee table tops, tablemats, lampshades, and glass panes for casement windows.

"Sri Lankan rural folk are so shy, yet so strong, they could never project a true picture of who they are, and I would like to be able to do it for them, if I can let the world see through my work how they dress, walk, talk, the pristine beauty of their world, I will have succeeded," she said.

Her paintings at the exhibition, particularly an eye-catching school of dolphins playing in the azure waters, a swan in a pond that has been done through spectacular juxtaposition, featuring the white and pale blue swan swimming in a pond that has deep blue and red inflections. An image of a celestial being titled Fairy and another entitled Good Morning UAE, which shows sand dunes and cactus in a dexterous mode, are other noteworthy displays.

Self-taught and now actually holding training workshop sessions for students at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, which she first started doing with the help of ZU's former art faculty professor, Linda Bastian, she feels imparting her knowledge is an important step in preserving the technique she has created.

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