Wall painting at Kelaniya Rajamaha Vihara - 1946 - by Soliyas Mendis
Solius Mendis, a young lad from an ordinary family of Mahawewa was taken under the devoted care and tutelage of Ven. Sugatissa Maha Thera to teach Pali and Sanskrit. The sole intention of his parents was to see their son emerging as an Ayurvedic physician. However, without paying sufficient attention to studying dead languages, he showed an extraordinary prowess for drawing and painting, quite contrary to what his parents wished.
Subsequently he left the temple on his own accord to be an apprentice under M. Monis Silva who was a reputed artist at that time.
After qualifying to work independently he did mural paintings in Buddhist Temples in Polonnaruwa, Attanagalla, Pugoda, Sedawatte, Meddepola and Malwana. It was the year 1930, when the restoration work at Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya was in progress under the able patronage of great benefactress and the devout Buddhist Mrs. Helena Wijewardene of the Sedawatte Walawwa. She heard about young Solius Mendis who had at that time carved out a niche for himself as a temple painter and assigned the responsible task of painting the walls of the new viharage. He was sent on a study tour to Ajanta, Ellora and Bagh to get inspiration for his assignment.