Mistique – Chan Dissanayake

Early Morning Greendale NSW

9 August – 9 September 2014

Meet the Artist Saturday 9 August from 2pm

An exhibition resulting from the study of the effects and plays of light under misty atmospheric conditions.

About the Artist 

Chan Dissanayake was born in Sri Lanka to an artistic family, his father an internationally acclaimed film director and his mother an art teacher. He migrated with his family to Australia in 1986. 

A talent for drawing was recognized in pre-school days and a passion for art, especially for watercolours, kept him actively involved in it. Having studied watercolour painting with renowned Australian artists, he had embarked on a journey of self-discovery. 

Achieving rapid success and winning many major awards, he has gained a considerable reputation as an outstanding watercolour artist. His solo exhibition ‘Cool Waters’ held in October 2010 at the Bungendore Woodworks Gallery was a sell-out.  Since being invited as a guest tutor at the Summer Art Experience by the Artists society of Canberra 2011 and 2012, he now conducts workshops throughout Australia and is a well sought after tutor. In August 2014 he will be featuring as a tutor at ASOC startART programme.

Chan is a multi-award winning artists, he created history in 2013 by winning the overall prize on both major art exhibitions in Canberra, where he was named the winner of the Agricultural Heritage Prize and the overall Champion Exhibit at the Royal Canberra Show in 2013; and Best of Show and People’s Choice Award at the Artists Society of Canberra Spring Exhibition 2013. 

His works are highly sought after in local and regional galleries. 

“The mist, like love, plays upon the heart of the hills and brings out surprise of beauty” —Rabindranath Tagore

Artist Statement

Mistique is an exhibition that features my latest body of works resulting from the study of the effects and plays of light under misty atmospheric conditions.  As a local resident of Canberra, mist and fog are regular visitors to our region in the winter months. I drew inspiration from these regular sightings. They act like suspended veils in open space, at times dimming, concealing and revealing which ads an aura of mystery. The obscuring of more defined forms to simple silhouettes unifies and re-defines the landscape. As the rays of warm morning light penetrate, the eyes play hide and seek, often an ordinary subject is transformed to something magical.

My paintings are recordings of these inspired moments. I find peace and fulfilment in the creative process. Especially when using a responsive medium such as watercolour.

Having extensively studied the works of the great Australian landscape artist Sir Hans Heysen for his depictions of stunning atmospheric effects of mist, which had profound influence in my works, I experimented with the “wet-into-wet” technique in watecolour to capture these effects.  Watercolour behaves like nature, fresh spontaneous and elemental in its simplicity. Whilst the fluidity and the dynamic nature of the medium lend itself well in creating these effects, it throws certain challenges too.

Firstly, the wet-into-wet technique only allows a limited time frame, usually 2 to 3 minute window of opportunity. As the paper begins to dry the edges and form becomes more defined and dangerous to paint. One must be acutely aware what forms to paint at that stage. Secondly, in misty conditions, the colours become muted and the tones need to be closely related. Any drastic change in tone and colour will destroy the feeling of depth.  Yet, working “with the medium” is the key to success. Most magical atmospheric effects are induced by the mingling of the wet washes, which infuses a visual realism and takes a life on its own, where a perfectly timed dab here and there or a deft brush stroke makes all the difference.