The Sapumal Foundation
32/4 Barnes Place, Colombo 07, Sri Lanka.
Tel: 011 2695731
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m
Entrance : Free
To quote Henri Matisse, art should be ‘…A soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue’. And that’s exactly what the warm, delightfully cluttered galleries of the Sapumal Foundation have to offer. Established by the late Harry Peiris (secretary and live wire of the illustrious ‘43 group’) in 1974, it is tasked with preserving this vast collection of artwork.
34/2 Barnes Place is Harry Peiris’ former residence and, which he bequeathed to the foundation to display this veritable treasure trove of Sri Lankan modernist art. At any given time there are over 200 paintings are on display whilst 600 more remain in storage.
The majority of work is by members of the 43 group – the pioneers ofSri Lankan contemporary art. The group comprised exclusively of painters (With the exception of Lionel Wendt) and their most celebrated members include George Keyt, Aubrey Collette and Justin Deraniyagala.
Inside the galleries, the air is heavy with the scent of Peiris’ collection of weathered old books and antique wooden furniture.The house is imbibed with a distinct sense of history quite apart from the painting themselves – for Peiris’ residence served as the later meeting place for the 43 group.
Whether one is partial to Harry Peiris’s iconic revealing portraits, Ivan Peries’ serene lyrical landscapes or George Keyt’s canvases ebullient with generous curves; it’s all here at the Sapumal Foundation gallery.