Words Tatiyana Welikala. | Photographs Menaka Aravinda.
An instant realization is dawned upon anyone visiting Ifthikar Cader’s residence. It is truly the dwelling of an artist. A private gallery of various wildlife and landscape perspectives from Sri Lanka are displayed in his abode. One would be impressed by the talent that is present in the capability to capture such awe-inspiring pictures with the stroke of a brush. Being the youngest of 15 children, Ifthikar received his secondary education from St Thomas’s College, Mt Lavinia.
His passion was rugby and he ex- celled in it. Ifthikar gained consider- able recognition for the sport even when he pursed his higher studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the UK. However, rugby was not all that he was passion- ate about. Ifthikar liked to dabble in drawing and sketched with water colors from an early age. In his teens, he began to experiment with oil colors and was very delighted to study art as a subject for the London A Level Examinations.
A combination of athleticism and artistry were admirable qualities to possess in a young man. As much as an aspiring artist Ifthikar was, a career was regarded a challenge because he had a young family to support. He delved into various fields of work such as accountancy, gem trading, television and marketing electrical goods. Having lived in England, Pakistan and the USA, Ifthikar had always wanted to return to his motherland someday.
Ifthikar and his family settled down in Sri Lanka in 1965. As years went by, Ifthikar’s daughter motivated her father to pursue a dream he once had – art. Having been reminded about his love for painting, Ifthikar enthusiastically began painting portraits of places he visited abroad and significantly of unique sceneries and wildlife of Sri Lanka. His first exhibition was showcased at the Lionel Wendt in 1996. A sense of encouragement filled Ifthikar, upon selling 10 paintings.
Through self-learning, Ifthikar gained valuable knowledge about the theories of art and its techniques from
CDs and books. Opportunities to meet acclaimed artists, further helped to master his talent. Ifthikar draws free hand on canvas. His style is referred to as impressionistic realism. Ifthikar explained, “Impressionism is part of realism. In realism, you draw every detail and the impression is where the light falls on. It does not show all the details but it is the part, where color is highlighted. Most of the impression- ist paintings play with light and shadow.” Ifthikar was influenced by masters of Impressionism namely
Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Ifthikar says “art is very therapeutic and has helped him rediscover himself through trails in life.” The exhibition will showcase over 50 oil paintings on canvas, illustrating the rich history of the island.