Barefoot Gallery Colombo, formerly known as The Colombo Gallery (1967-1971), was first housed in a building designed by Ulrik Plesner, for the Sansoni’s, in the garden of their private residence. While there, it was known for its salon-type atmosphere and informal art exhibitions, where drawings, paintings and sculptures were laid out for view and sale.
After a hiatus, it reopened in 1991 as “Gallery 706 Colombo” and was the first commercial art gallery in Sri Lanka. The Salon-type atmosphere prevailed and Gallery 706 hosted a number of exhibitions in the 1990s by artists such as Jagath Weerasinghe, Chandraguptha Thenuwara, Anoli Perera, and Muhanned Cader. It also presented exhibitions of work by visitors, either those living temporarily in the island or others just passing through. Three notable exhibitions were a retrospective by George Classen in 1993, an exhibition of acrylics on paper by Ivan Peries in 1996, both were members of the illustrious 43 Group that was founded by Lionel Wendt in 1943; And, a comprehensive exhibition of Lionel Wendt photographs that went up for view and sale – a request from the owners of the collection—that the Directors of Gallery 706 were happy to oblige. 150 pictures were selected from a substantial 600. The Directors have a detailed file on the exhibition for reference.
In 1999 came further expansion and the gallery moved into a new building, and the name changed to BAREFOOT GALLERY COLOMBO to consolidate all of Barefoot’s different activities under one umbrella. Artists that came on board with the Gallery and exhibit regularly with us are Alex Stewart, Barbara Sansoni, photographer Dominic Sansoni, Druvinka, Josephine Balakrishna, Laki Senanayake, Mahen Chanmugum, Nelun Harasgama, and Neville and Sybil Weereratne.
Barefoot Gallery Colombo serves as a platform for artists, musicians, poets and filmmakers. The space is used in a variety of ways: exhibitions by local and foreign artists and photographers, (including The World Press Photo) concerts, poetry readings, film nights and theatre. The café on its premises hosts private dinners and parties at night and is home to Colombo’s most popular pub quiz.