Jayantha Premachandra (30th Jan 1935 - 3rd April 1988) was a Sri Lankan painter, author, newspaper columnist and artist who spent most of his adult life in Europe. Internationally acclaimed for his own intrinsic style, his works were not limited to paintings but mosaic, batik, and murals.
He had his primary education at Revatha Vidyalaya and Carey College Colombo and graduated from the University of Visual and Performing Arts Colombo (Heywood Institute of Art). He was also conferred a special Degree from the Art and Industry Institute of Moscow, Russia. His early career spanned as an illustrator at M.D. Gunasena & Co and as a journalist and illustrator at Times of Ceylon. He represented the Ceylon Creative Media organization at the first Youth Festival held in Helsinki, Finland where he displayed his paintings in a solo exhibition. His career later progressed as a Chief Designer at Thulhiriya Textile Cooperation. His love for art and desire to impart his knowledge was directed at teaching art at Wesley College and Buddhist Ladies College in the ‘60s & ’70s.
He was the first Sri Lankan to hold a solo exhibition in both the National Museum of Modern Art in Baghdad, Iraq and in the Ksiazki Gallery in Ghuery Olsztyn, Poland. Jayantha held over 40 solo exhibitions covering over 30 countries from 1959 -1988. They include Sri Lanka, Finland, Russia, Bulgaria, Iraq, Sweden, Norway, UnitedKingdom, Germany, Denmark, Poland, France and Netherlands.
Jayantha Premacahndra’s paintings in his early life reflects his life experiences from his childhood in Sri Lanka to his student life in the Soviet Union. Many illustrations depict effects of socialism as well as global social and political events during that era. His early works took the lines of realism. The portrait of Yuri Gagarin was one of his most famous works from the 1960s which was gifted to Yuri Gagarin himself during his visit to Sri Lanka.
Subsequently, his art depicted more of Sri Lankan culture and Batik in particular (1970s). Batik art was very well received in Scandinavian countries and many pieces are with private collectors. His style, in the latter part of his life changed to more liberal forms depicting freedom, love and compassion, acceptance and move towards peace. His unique style progressed with time as he experimented with new art concepts and techniques and his art also reflected his political and personal ideologies. His exposure to many different cultures, ideologies and environments is featured in his wide spectrum of styles and subjects from traditional to modern abstract art forms. He has experimented with many styles and forms from Cubism, Post impressionism, Neo expressionism, Abstract expressionism, Suprematism and identified his own unique style towards the latter part of his life.
His latter works are at various European and West Asian museums. 'Durga Marga' a.k.a. 'Barakaraththaya Kandak Adi' is displayed at the Eastern Cultural Museum in Moscow. His works are also in the Bagdad National Museum of Modern Arts and numerous private collections, principally the HENIE HALBERA collection in Spain. Another noteworthy piece of his latter works of art in Sri Lanka is the mural at Peoples Bank building adorning the 11th floor.
In 1988, Jayantha was making preparations for two solo exhibitions one at UNESCO Paris and the other at the Concord Free Public Library in Boston USA which was organized by Alan P. Lightman, American physicist and writer. Sadly, his wonderful work ended abruptly due to his untimely demise resulting from a stroke at the young age of 53 on the 3rd of April 1988.