The National Art Gallery.

The National Art Gallery essentially consists of two long, rectangular halls – one containing the gallery’s permanent collection and the other displaying temporary exhibitions by Sri Lankan artists. It’s an interesting place with some very interesting works, but it’s not really what you’d expect from a national gallery. The art is displayed somewhat clumsily and there’s no chronological cohesion to the placing of the paintings. This could be fine if they had labels to indicate who each work is by or when it was painted – but they don’t.

This is a real shame, because there are some beautiful, intriguing paintings that we’d love to know more about. But there’s nothing there to tell you anything. It’s an incredibly sparse collection – and this isn’t due to a dearth of Sri Lankan artists. We have and have had plenty of artists, and some excellent work has come from our island.

The work featured in the gallery consists of largely portraits and landscapes – with the occasional abstract canvas. And nothing seems to date later than the 80s. All this being said, it’s definitely worth a look but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to spend more than 10-15 minutes there – there just isn’t enough for you to look at. The temporary exhibitions, however, can be quite good, but you need to find out what’s going on when. We had a look at the current exhibition which wasn’t mind-blowing, but they’ve had some good stuff in the past – like the works featured in the recent Colombo Art Biennale.

The National Art Gallery is located in the lovely Cinnamon Gardens – near the new performing arts theatre the Nelum Pokuna, Viharamahadevi Park, the National Museum of Natural History, the Town Hall and the public library. It’s a pretty area, and a Sunday morning spent walking around these sites could be quite nice.

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