Ivan Peries
(1921–1988)

Ivan Peries, Untitled (Seashore), 1966, oil on board, installation view, EMST—National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, documenta 14, photo: Mathias Völzke

As a founding member of the 43 Group, Ivan Peries (1921–88) was part of an avant-garde circle of artists in Sri Lanka, which also included Lionel Wendt, George Keyt, Harry Pieres, and L. T. P. Manjusri, among others. His works from the 1950s and 60s focused on depicting the richness of Ceylonese landscapes, coastal fishing villages, and Indigenous life. While continuing to compose mythopoeic renderings of the relationship between humans and nature, his painterly imagination remained linked to the currents of internationalism. At the age of nineteen, Peries painted his seminal work Homage to El Greco (1940), which was acquired by Wendt. Peries spent most of his life in England. Untitled (Seashore) allegorically connects the shores of his homeland with his adopted home in Southend-on-Sea, while suggesting the challenges of self-imposed exile. Pieres died shortly before the opening of the landmark exhibition—which included his work—The Other Story: Asian, African and Caribbean Artists in Post-War Britain (1989), curated by Rasheed Araeen.

—Natasha Ginwala

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