Kesara Ratnavibhushana is a Sri Lankan artist with a professional photographic practice in the capital, Colombo.
Raised among visionary artists and imbued from a young age with uncompromising creativity (his father was a protégé of Geoffrey Bawa), in 2003 Kesara moved to London, where he began telling photographic stories while reading Architecture & History of Art.
His first exhibition (Colombo, 2005) featured an eclectic portfolio of paintings, pen-and-ink drawings and photographs. The chief guest was Sir Arthur C. Clarke, whose Foundation still holds one of those first paintings.
From 2006–2008 Kesara was the Official Photographer for the SHUNT arts space below the vaults of London Bridge station. During this period his work defined itself, with particular regard to realism (‘gritty’), technical constraints (the dark), and to the documenting of performance (unintrusive). He also worked with Secret Cinema/Future Shorts.
He returned to Sri Lanka in 2008, positioning himself to observe the wave of post-war change that was to overtake the nation.
In 2009 he worked for the Bawa Trust, photographing Lunuganga and No.11 for the Trust archives and PR. In 2012 he was Photographer in Residence for the HSBC Galle Literary Festival and Colombo Fashion Week, and was employed by the Sri Lankan government to document the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, held at the BMICH. The following year, as Official Photographer for the Commonwealth Secretariat at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, he was intimately involved in the recording of a fascinating and enormously-complex event, offering (and gaining) fresh perspectives from this inside view.
Dian Gomes, former Group Director of MAS Holdings and head of SL boxing, commissioned Kesara to contribute to the illustration of his 2014 leadership memoir Cornerman, with the specific request that he direct his now-trademark artistic reportage toward the emotional aspect of the sport.
Returning to his architectural beginnings, Kesara has also been commissioned to document a number of private homes (Mahela Jayawardene), commercial spaces (Marshalls and Jaguar Land Rover Sri Lanka) and boutique hotels (KK Collection).
He has also worked for Hilton Colombo & Hilton Residences, Aitken Spence Hotels, Aman Resorts, Elysium Collection, Taru Villas and Manor House Concepts, among others. He is currently employed on a project for the Sri Lankan multinational Hayleys PLC conglomerate.
Since 2008, he has been a visiting lecturer in Architectural History at the Northumbria University Academy of Design (AOD), and is now also creative consultant and liaison for the AOD/Colombo Innovation Tower. For the last ten years he has been Photographer in Residence for the Chamber Music Society of Colombo. He also serves on the steering committee for the British Council’s Mapping Creative Industries in Sri Lanka research project.
Kesara continues to explore and develop his artistic photography, appearing in solo and group exhibitions at Harold Pieris Gallery, Colomboscope 2017, Lionel Wendt Gallery, and at La Grand, Hotel, Galle. Merging the more traditional understandings of photography with the more abstract and conceptual, he also specialises in single-edition artworks, several of which are now in private collections. In March 2019 his ‘(the) Different Tendencies of Eternal Summer’ was featured as the cover story of ARTRA magazine.
Much of his time is spent travelling, within Sri Lanka and overseas, on wedding shoots. Kesara takes pleasure and pride in capturing the energy and atmosphere of weddings, from the details of the preparations to the panoramas of events and venues. His work has included exclusive ‘destination’ weddings in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Pune, and Melbourne.
Whether he is documenting a wedding, a boxing match, a corporate event or a literary festival, Kesara focuses on building a personal connection with each client, concentrating on quality rather than quantity, combined with a unique set of techniques refined over a decade and a half of work.
The resulting images have been featured in Harper’s Bride, The Evening Standard, Architectural Review, A+U, Vogue India, and numerous other publications.