Marie Alles Fernando
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25 – A Quarter Century of Art
Going through a selection of Marie Alles Fernando’s paintings which span a quarter century of art, one journeys with her from the simple to the complex through a range of emotions. Reviews of her work over the last 25 years trace the development in her style and technique, progressing from representational to symbolic, from detachment to involvement. Her own serenity and grace has drawn her more to subjects of beauty and tranquility and the emotions conveyed are placid and calm. Her choice of subjects remain basically the same, but over the years her art mirrors a growing depth of feeling and deeper insights. There is an increasing vigour in her lines, a greater intensity in the treatment of subjects, reflecting more intense moods. However, she never loses her delicate touch. The same sensitive use of colour that evoked a sense of moisture and dampness in Canal at George Steuarts in 1965 is seen in the hazy dreamlike quality of her Randenigala scenes in 1987.

Marie was born into an atmosphere of art as her mother and grandfather were both artists and she grew up surrounded by works of art, so it was not long before she started experimenting with a brush and soon carried off certificates awarded for art at School. (St. Bridget’s Convent). This was in 1957. Later both she and her mother Genevieve Edirisinghe Alles studied art under Ivor Baptiste. In 1968 he had an exhibition at the Colombo Art Gallery of over 200 canvases - his own work and that of his pupils. Marie’s landscapes ‘Maskeliya - Old

Town’ and ‘Diyatalawa’ were eye-catching. In 1970, ‘Maskeliya Old Town’ won the Merit Award at the Ceylon Society of Arts, 71st Annual Exhibition, where W J C Beling was one of the Judges.

As the wife of a planter, spending most of her time in Maskeliya, Nuwara Eliya and Madulsima, she drew her inspiration from the purple mist clad mountains and green, silent valleys around her, recreating their moods with skill and creativity and injecting into her paiiitings their quality of quiet repose. Subjects such as ‘Jungle Pool’ gave her the opportunity for brilliant combinations of colours.

As a sensitive painter she was also able to capture the finest of expressions and emotions of people on canvas. This is demonstrated in her interesting studies of faces of ordinary women titled ‘Sinhalese Girl’, ‘Tam5i Woman’, ‘Tamil Bride’ and ‘Muslim Girl’. ‘One of her best portraits is that of an adolescent girl where she portrays the innocence and the unsophistication of a young girl with a slight suggestion of mischief.’ Her portraits are more concerned with moods and expressions than with reproducing a likeness. Her Pencil sketches of faces are very expressive.
During this period, Marie joined a group of artists from the hills to form the Meridian Art Group and participated in their exhibitions in Nuwara Eliya. A few impressionistic paintings showed her development as an artist and a growing maturity. Moving from the purely representational she was bringing in a freshness of vision.
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