Chinese tourists creating booming market for street artists in Sri Lankan capital Colombo

The street artists of Sri Lanka who create amazing colourful backdrops for our capital city Colombo are seeing a boom in sales—thanks to Chinese tourists.

XinhuaNet reports that “many well-known local artists who were forced to choose alternative careers due to a slump in sales during the civil war, which ended in May 2009, have now re-emerged.

“During the war, sales were very bad and many of us had to stop painting. But now the war is over and we are seeing a rise in tourists so we are hoping to show our paintings to the world,” says Sugath Kumara.

Writes Jamila Najmuddin: “Sugath’s passion for art developed from his father. He watched his father paint for hours a day and then helped him take his painting to the streets of Colombo hoping to find buyers..

“Sugath’s most expensive painting, valued at Sri Lankan Rs.150,000 (about 978 U.S. dollars) was recently bought by a Chinese tourist. He said the Chinese buyer had really valued his painting.”

Meanwhile, 63-year-old Sripala Ratnayake has been selling his art on the streets of Colombo since 1983. Sripala says that things “have now improved with many locals and foreign tourists becoming aficionados”.

“Foreigners, especially Chinese nationals, are easily attracted towards our art. They prefer art portraying Sri Lankan wildlife and from these pieces we have good sales.”

The colorful paintings and wooden art portray Sri Lanka’s famous historical sites, the island’s beautiful beaches, Buddhist religious parades featuring dancers, elephants and fire dancers, wildlife and abstract art.

Says art dealer Indika Saman “Just as the locals appreciate our hard work, we are proud that tourists also appreciate our work. We hope tourists, especially the Chinese, continue to visit our country so that Sri Lankan art can be taken to the world.”

Read more here.

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