A Life Dedicated to Art: Remembering George Beven

A Life Dedicated to Art: Remembering George Beven

George Beven, a renowned Sri Lankan artist who captivated audiences with his vibrant oil paintings and expressive portraits, passed away at the age of 93. Throughout his illustrious career, Beven remained deeply connected to his Sri Lankan heritage, drawing inspiration from the country’s landscapes and people.

Born in Negombo, Sri Lanka, Beven’s artistic inclinations emerged early. While still in school, his talent caught the attention of the Ceylon Observer, leading to an offered job as a fashion illustrator. Though unable to immediately accept due to his studies, Beven’s artistic journey was set in motion.

After pursuing art education in Sri Lanka and at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London, Beven relocated to the UK in 1958. His first solo exhibition at the Royal Empire Society in that same year marked the beginning of a prolific career filled with exhibitions in both Sri Lanka and the UK.

Beven’s distinctive style was characterized by his use of fingers rather than brushes to apply oil paints, creating a unique texture and vibrancy. His paintings often depicted Sri Lankan landscapes, capturing the essence of the country’s natural beauty. He was also renowned for his portraits, including those of expressionist dancer and choreographer Hilde Holger, ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, and Princess Margaret.

In 1970, Beven’s life took an enriching turn when he met dancer and choreographer Wolfgang Stange, who became his partner. Inspired by the teachings of Hilde Holger, Stange believed that dance should be accessible to all and have a positive impact on lives. This shared vision led to the establishment of Amici Dance Theatre Company in London in the early 1980s, a pioneering inclusive dance company that Beven actively supported throughout his life.

Outside of his artistic endeavours, Beven was known for his calm, elegant, and gracious demeanour. Despite his remarkable talent, he remained humble and loyal, qualities that endeared him to many.

Beven’s legacy extends beyond his artistic achievements. He was a champion of inclusivity in the arts, supporting and nurturing the talents of others. His life serves as an inspiration to aspiring artists and a reminder of the power of art to connect and enrich lives.

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