Walimuni Solias Mendis (1897-1975) was a renowned Sri Lankan artist primarily known for his Buddhist temple paintings. Born in Mahawewa, Madampe, Chilaw, his parents wanted Mendis to become an Ayurveda Physician. However, he was drawn to art from a very early age. As a young boy he trained and worked under his uncle Memonis Silva, himself a master painter. Once he completed his apprenticeship, Mendis began painting murals in Buddhist temples. In order to hone his skills, Mendis visited India to study the artwork of Ajanta and Ellora Caves, and Sarnath, which inspired him to mingle techniques of Indian Buddhist art with that of traditional Sinhalese classical art. He eschewed the then prevalent European traditions and created his own unique style of mural paintings.
Several leading Buddhist monks and devotees who saw his magnificent temple paintings decided to invite him to paint the murals at the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya. At the age of 30, Mendis undertook a twenty-year project to complete the Kelaniya Vihara murals which stand today as his masterwork.