Marie Alles Fernando
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25 – A Quarter Century of Art
A change in style is evident in the work of this period. It has been said ‘The representational style of her early landscapes has been changed with more subtle nuances of creative interpretation and composition. Jewel colors have begun to add interest to the muted grays, blues and greens...’

Although some of the pictures do not altogether escape from representation, there are others that break away from the pure lyricism of Marie’s earlier style into impressionism. Here one notices a preoccupation with a stylized tree form facilely and symbolically used for decoration and design to give vivacity to her work. In some paintings like ‘The Peacock” elongated movements are created by bold brush strokes of colours. Interesting groupings of figures give life to old worn themes like Village Fair and Festive Mood. This shows a moving away from the closed composition of a gentle and delicate picture to an experimentation that has given Marie’s work a new vigor.

In 1989, 56 of Marie’s paintings were shown in an exhibition titled ‘Poem of Love’. She said ‘I have named it thus so as to capture the spirit of Sri Lanka in my work. It is meant to give some hope in an almost hopeless situation.

This exhibition showed a decided development in technique in her work showing a far greater freedom with the brush. Uninhibitedly, she used a variety of brushes on a single canvas. She is also more adventurous with colors using bold contrasting colors like orange and purple, harmonizing them with gradations of these colors in softer hues.’

Very large canvases in oils of ‘Horton Plains’ where the mists seem to be just rising from the deep valleys to the mountain tops established Marie as a landscape painter of vision, ‘a painter of nature’ as she describes herself and in that sense a painter of the soil, she is also a painter of man and his natural environment. She seems to perceive the inner harmony of nature’s manifestations and this is expressed in the delicacy and depth of her art.’
A new tool she has begun using for her work is the palette knife. ‘Vesak’ was painted using the palette knife. ‘Here is no obvious Vesak scene. Instead, the entire mural is dominated by a single tree - the tree of Enlightenment radiating its energy in strong circular motion to suggest continuity and eternity. Experimenting with different techniques, another painting has the effect of a swathe of fabric woven into a scene of a coconut grove.’
Two distinct moods are reflected in her work - a subdued mellow one in her water colors and a vibrant, joyous one in her oils.

Marie’s paintings are on permanent display at Sapumal Foundation - founded by her friend and mentor Harry Pieris and at her studio. Her major work can also be seen at Hotel Taj, Ramada Renaissance and Thomas Cooks, (where a mural and many paintings hang). There is a mural at Norad, some large paintings at the Hilton, Grindlays Bank, Mercantile Credit, Intercontinental and Windsor Hotel (Nuwara Eliya).
Where does Marie go from here? She chose the path years ago when she decided to take a serious interest in painting. Now, painting has become an integral part of her life - as important to her as anything else that has to do with her life - so she will go on painting.

Text courtesy of Sisila Cooray
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