Son of a Sinhalese diplomat, P.J.B. Samarasinghe was born in New York City in 1964. Raised in Rio by his Argentinian mother, the far-flung Sri Lankan began his artistic odyssey photographing album covers for underground bands in Sao Paulo and Harlem in the late 70s and early 80s.
Samarasinghe met his first wife, Anglo-Lankan singer/model Tania Bastinez in Unawatuna in 1983 while shooting the Paradise Air poster campaign; the legendary photo-shoot that shot Bastinez to fame. They married in Acapulco six days later and were separated by the end of the year.
Samarasinghe then went A.W.O.L. in Latin America for a decade, eventually washing up on the shores of San Diego in 1995, where his late introduction to surfing came to envelope his entire life and so stymied his poster artist career for another ten years.
It was only in 2004, when Lou Reed introduced Samarasinghe to block printing while the lifelong friends were on an Ashram in Pune, that the creativity of the latter was fully unleashed. Samarasinghe has since divided his artistic attention and his perennial pursuit of the perfect wave between Fernando De Noronha, Tahiti, Hawaii and Sri Lanka.
Minimalist, irreverent, echoing design guru Saul Bass in style, emblematic of the Sinhalese diaspora’s anguished view of their mother-country and loathe to use more than three primary colours in any one image, Samarasinghe depicts reified figures in his post-war era posters inspired by a fridge magnet he found in Odel in 1999. In January 2014 an original P.J.B. Samarasinghe poster sold at auction for an undisclosed amount to an anonymous buyer.