A Feast for the Senses: The Art of Senaka Senanayake

Featured originally on barnebys.co.uk, June 23, 2020

Senaka Senenayake (1951- ), Winged Wonders (detail), 2019, oil on canvas, 91.4 x 121.9 cm. Image via ARTIANA

Lush rainforests populated with tropical birds, colourful butterflies and Hindu and Buddhist deities tantalise the viewer in Senaka Senanayake’s latest exhibition and sale, ‘The Enchanted Forest’. 

Hosted by Artiana in Dubai, the online exhibition Senaka Senanayake: The Enchanted Forest marks Artiana’s inaugural sale with the beloved artist and features some of Senanayake’s most recent paintings. The sale runs for the month of June, and pieces include bold botanic imagery, fields of eye-catching butterflies, and clusters of cheery macaws. Senanayake captures the beauty of the tropical rainforest on his canvases, allowing viewers to bring a piece of nature into their own homes. 

Born in Sri Lanka in 1951, Senaka Senenayake quickly became known as a child prodigy for his artistic prowess and had his first international one-man show in New York at the age of the ten. He later studied at Yale, gaining his degree in Art and Architecture before moving back to Sri Lanka. Currently residing in Colombo, he continues to use the flora and fauna of his home country as inspiration for his work, fostering appreciation for his surroundings and making him one of the best-known artists of the region.  

Environmentalism plays a huge part in Senenayake’s work, and his love and respect for nature shines through his paintings. The Sri Lankan rainforests are threatened by intense deforestation, and industries like tea production are particularly destructive in their pursuit of farmable land for plantations. Native animals disappear as their habitats are destroyed, and entire ecosystems are in danger of collapse.

Senanayake utilises painting as a form of advocacy, depicting the beauty of these threatened landscapes and creating an awareness of their precarious situation. He searches for harmony between people and the earth, encouraging viewers to connect to and coexist with the natural environments around them. The diversity and colour in Senanayake’s paintings speak to the vibrancy of the forests, and remind us of how precious they truly are.

However, Senanayake focuses on the current vitality of the rainforests rather than contemplating their destruction. In paintings like Winged Wonders, the canvas comes alive with butterflies flitting around a variety of flowers. He captures the multitudes of species around him in a few bold brushstrokes and celebrates the bright and colourful life of the ‘Enchanted Forest.’

Religious imagery also appears frequently in Senanayake’s works, such as depictions of Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity known as the patron of the arts, remover of obstacles and the deva of wisdom. Transparent bubbles appear around animals to represent the eternal circle of life as conceived by Buddhists, while the lotus flower signifies enlightenment and rebirth.

Spirituality and nature exist side by side in Senenayake’s idyllic scenes, depicting the splendor of the outdoors while reminding us that humans are just one part of a larger ecosystem. It is easy to get lost in his paintings, appreciating the colour and masterful brushwork while feeling the very same joy and serenity that one experiences while in nature.

Artiana’s sale ends 30 June at 9pm UAE time, with all bidding occurring virtually. The full catalogue is available online to browse, and prior registration is required to place a bid. 


Original article posted May 21, 2020 at ellingtonproperties.ae

“It’s a pleasure to collaborate with Ellington Properties on this initiative as we aim to continue raising levels of appreciation for art across the region. The Ellington Art Gallery will serve as a perfect springboard from which we will showcase established as well as emerging artists. […]”

Lavesh Jagasia, Managing Director, Artiana

First dedicated art gallery by Ellington Properties developed in partnership with art auction house Artiana.

Ellington Properties, Dubai’s leading design-led property developer, has announced its first dedicated art gallery that will add to the cultural showcase of the city, a vibrant global hub for arts and culture. Celebrating the design-led ethos of the developer, Ellington Properties will soon open doors to Ellington Art Gallery, located in its DT1 residential tower in Downtown Dubai, which will be completed shortly.

Taking pride of place on the ground floor, the gallery is developed in collaboration with leading art auction house, Artiana, and will feature specially curated, contemporary art exhibitions. In addition to adding aesthetic and inspirational value to the residents of DT1, the Ellington Art Gallery will provide art lovers and visitors compelling cultural experiences through the various exhibits.

Robert Booth, Managing Director, Ellington Properties, said: “Art and design are fundamental elements in the creation of appealing, contemporary developments that people want to live in. With this in mind, we chose to launch the first Ellington Art Gallery at DT1, our first development in Downtown Dubai. Led by its central location, elegant architecture and world-class design, DT1 will be a sought-after location for those who aspire to be at the heart of Dubai’s vibrant lifestyle destination with the gallery creating an added referral point for their refined lifestyle.”

Lavesh Jagasia, Managing Director, Artiana, added: “It’s a pleasure to collaborate with Ellington Properties on this initiative as we aim to continue raising levels of appreciation for art across the region. The Ellington Art Gallery will serve as a perfect springboard from which we will showcase established as well as emerging artists. The curatorial programme will focus on exhibitions that will add to the multicultural art landscape of Dubai while enhancing the experience of residents in contemporary communities such as DT1 in Downtown Dubai. We are inclined to support Ellington’s commitment to art and look forward to a long and fruitful collaboration as we support them in the delivery of exceptional, liveable communities for modern living.”

The spacious Ellington Art Gallery will host the works of artists from around the world, with the aim to broaden the understanding and appreciation of art in Dubai and the region. In addition to curated selling exhibitions, the gallery will offer a range of services including acquisitions, collection management, curatorial services, and advisory along with private sales and bespoke art storage solutions for collectors.

The launch of Ellington Art Gallery further underlines the company’s wider support of the artistic community, creating opportunities for them to showcase their work. Recently, Ellington Properties partnered with the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS) for the central art piece Hamama in Belgravia II which won The Collaboration award at the Bazaar Interiors Awards 2020.

Just walking distance from the iconic Burj Khalifa, Dubai Opera and The Dubai Mall, DT1 is set in an area of about 20,000 square meters and rises to a majestic height of 76 meters. The property has won several awards including ‘Best Residential High-Rise’ at the Middle East Architect Awards 2019 and ‘Best Architecture – Multiple Residence’ at the Arabian Property Awards 2019.

ARTIANA – Jamil Naqsh (Works on Paper) – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium – 16 – 31 May 2020| Auction Results

Our recently concluded ‘Jamil Naqsh: Works on Paper’ auction has been a success with 63% of lots sold, 70% estimate value sold, and a total sales of USD 79,200.

For the complete auction result and analysis, please visit www.artiana.com.

Thank you for your bids! 

Auction Catalogue – Jamil Naqsh (Works on Paper) – From The Jamil Naqsh Family Collection – May 16-31, 2020

ARTIANA Honors Pakistani Legend Jamil Naqsh With an Unmissable Online Auction

by Angie Kordic (Published May 15, 2020, for widewalls.ch)

Jamil Naqsh was someone who believed that ”an artist must work out his aesthetics and know where they are coming from; and that they must first be recognized and understood in his environment before venturing further.” The Pakistani master created work that is deeply personal and emotional, often focusing on the same subjects and recreating them in a variety of forms, each of them new and fresh, however.

He was a man who lived for his art until the very end, when on May 16, 2019 he died at the age of 79. Now, on the anniversary of his death, Lavesh Jagasia and his auction house ARTIANA are organizing a special sale honoring his legacy and remembering his life.

A collection of Jamil Naqsh’s rare and unseen works on paper, coming from the Jamil Naqsh Museum and the artist’s family, will be available for purchase online from May 16 through 31, 2020. The buyers can choose among 100 of his Quranic Calligraphies that feature verses from the beginning verse of the Holy Book. As delicate, dedicated abstractions, these pieces aim to offer comfort and solace in these trying times, and to once again reaffirm the genius and the sensitivity of Jamil Naqsh and his art.

We talk to ARTIANA’s Lavesh Jagasia about his own relationship with Jamil Naqsh, the works in this online auction, and why collectors should not miss it.

Left: Jamil Naqsh – Surah Fatheha, 2012. Mixed media on paper, 16.5 x 11.75 in. (42 x 29.7 cm.)
Right: Jamil Naqsh – Ayat Al Kursi, 2012. Mixed media on paper, 11.75 x 11.75 in. (29.6 x 29.7 cm.)

Honoring Jamil Naqsh

Widewalls: The upcoming ARTIANA auction is focusing solely on Jamil Naqsh. How would you describe your own connection to the artist and his work, as well as his family?

Lavesh Jagasia: My first meeting with Jamil Naqsh was about two decades ago in London. It was to discuss the publishing of his limited edition serigraphs, which I was focused on at that time, and was pursuing through The Serigraph Studio, an art publishing firm founded by me. This introductory meeting with him and Najmi Sura was scheduled to last for about an hour at the most, we all got along very well and were so engrossed in discussing art, art markets and it’s ecosystem that three hours had passed without realizing.

The artists that I worked with professionally were those whose works I also collected personally, and Jamil was one amongst them. The relationship both with Jamil and his family continued to grow and along with my progress in the art sphere.

ARTIANA has been successfully placing Jamil’s works through our auctions, and since the family wanted to continue with his objective of spreading his works to reach more people we collaboratively planned this auction, to achieve this objective and commemorate the artist.

Widewalls: This tribute to the great Master is paid in the form of 100 of his Quranic Calligraphies, which seem to be quite different from his “usual” paintings of the female form and pigeons. What can you tell us about these works?

LJ: Jamil Naqsh as an artist strongly believed that an artist must work out their aesthetics and always maintain a connection with their origin. He also believed that they must first be recognized and understood in their environment before venturing further.

Hence, the focus of his works on cultural traditions from his native Pakistan. Even his signature subjects of woman and pigeons, which you mention, were drawn from this and were inspired by traditional folklore and poetry.

The composition of the modern manuscripts and calligraphic representations of surahs from the Holy Book was a subject he worked extensively in the latter part of his life, as seen in this collection.

Widewalls: These are also works on paper. What kind of techniques were used by the artist in these instances?

LJ: The artist was a master painter and adept at various mediums and techniques of painting. This entire series was executed on paper using mixed media including acrylic paints to add an artistic and contemporary rendering of the otherwise traditional art of calligraphy.

Widewalls: The works contain verses from “The Surah Fatheha”, the beginning verse of the Holy Book. What are some of these writings? How would you say they resonate with the times we live in right now?

LJ: Yes, a good number of entries in the auction are based on ‘Surah Fatheha’, which actually is the first chapter of the Quran comprising seven verses, and is a prayer for the guidance, lordship, and mercy of God. This chapter has an essential role in Islamic prayer and serves as an opening for many functions in everyday Islamic life, hence resonates with the occasion, which is the commemoration of the artist on the first anniversary of his passing.

In the current environment as well it helps to spread similar sentiments of hope, guidance, and consolation.

Left: Jamil Naqsh – Healing Verse, 2012. Mixed media on paper, 16.5 x 11.75 in. (42 x 29.7 cm.)
Right: Jamil Naqsh – Surah Fatheha, 2012. Mixed media on paper, 11.5 x 12 in. (29.1 x 30.5 cm.)

Looking Ahead

Widewalls: The sale offers a unique opportunity for the collectors to acquire Naqsh’s affordable works. What would your advice for these collectors be?

LJ: The auction catalogue has been built with a focus on spreading the artists’ legacy through his works. An essential criterion to achieve this was to keep the estimates low allowing increased engagement, the family members owning the works were sensitive to the objective and agreed.

This has presented a very unique proposition for both new and established collectors to acquire Jamil Naqsh works with impeccable provenance at extremely attractive values, and I would recommend them to take advantage of this opportunity and collect more than one as they look wonderful when displayed in a group.

Widewalls: What’s next for ARTIANA?

LJ: It sounds counterintuitive, but thankfully Artiana has not been impacted by the current pandemic since we have always conducted our auctions online. Our position has in fact solidified due to the increased screen time of our audience, and we are now focused on presenting more sales this year. The current situation has forced many clients of ours to wean off print catalogues and effectively use only on our e-catalogues, for now, this has resulted in reduced time-lines required at our end for presenting new sales.

We have enhanced the capacity of our Private Sales vertical to include selling exhibitions, and are planning to hold an online selling exhibition for Sri Lankan artist Senaka Senanayake next month, all through June 2020. This will be followed by our Arts Beyond Borders sale scheduled for July 2020 and our calendar event South Asian Art sale in October. Our African Art department which has till now been including select works in our combined sales will hold its inaugural auction at the end of this year.

You can see ARTIANA’s Jamil Naqsh e-catalog here.

Left: Jamil Naqsh – Kalma, 2012. Mixed media on paper, 16.5 x 11.75 in. (42 x 29.7 cm.)
Right: Jamil Naqsh – Part of Surah Fatheha, 2012. Acrylic on paper, 16.5 x 11.75 in. (42 x 29.7 cm.)