At Louisimone Guirandou Gallery
By Omanza Eugene Shaw
From humble beginnings where he was born in the remote rural town of Dambala in Grand Cape Mount County, Liberia’s renowned art icon Leslie Lumeh continues to extend his talent and influence far and wide. Early this month, the Louisimone Guirandon Gallery in the capital city of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, opened a new exhibition of Leslie’s art along with the artworks of his Ivorian counterpart, Ange Mene. Both visual artists are being presented at the invitation of one of that country’s most prestigious galleries, established and operated by its founder and art historian, Madam Simone Guirandou N’Diaye.
Titled “No Border,” the exhibit curated by Nicole Louis-Sidney features eight recent paintings in oil, acrylic and water color by Leslie and twelve recent artworks by Mene. The official opening of the exhibition was held on Thursday, May 4, 2017 with a large audience representing a cross section of art lovers, and is scheduled to remain open to the public through July 1, 2017. The successful program represented the culmination of many months of meticulous planning by curator Nicole and Madam Guirandou along with a team of dedicated individuals and partners to demonstrate how art can unite people from all walks of life.
Aside from the 20 paintings, the design of the exhibition features a unique installation created in the middle of the hall by the two West African artists to further enhance the theme of the exhibit. This shows what appears to be a small parcel of land (or road) with a yellow line running from one end to the other, with pairs of shoes (representing people) on both sides and car tires mounted at the four ends of the arrangement.
The eight art pieces by Lumeh are all executed in his unique style of painting and in different sizes, which include large oil and acrylic on canvas and smaller water colors depicting his favorite subjects in everyday scenes that usually inspire him with such titles as “Flower Sellers,” “Les Cabannes d’Abidjan,” “Women Washing at a Creek,” and “Vendeur de Tableux (Route de Bassam)” while his Ivorian counterpart Mene paints on recycled plastic. His work is a modernism of cave paintings and children’s drawing. He is an art professor.
Leslie is one of Liberia’s foremost visual artists. He has established himself over the last two decades as a credible force for positive change, utilizing his creative abilities as a self-taught professional, and making remarkable strides both locally and internationally as an artist, illustrator, cartoonist and teacher (www.leslielumeh.com). It is no surprise therefore that he receives invitations regularly to participate in such prestigious events as this one in Abidjan, where he travelled for nearly two weeks to mount the exhibit and attend the opening reception.
The founder and executive director of the Liberian Visual Arts Academy (www.livarts.org), Leslie continues to nurture the budding talents of promising young visual artists in his community. He also serves as a Council Member of the recently established Innovation Campus in Monrovia, a position which resulted from his long association with Accountability Lab, an organization that supports a new generation of active and responsible leaders in Liberia. One of Leslie’s many ongoing projects involves his participation in a major exhibition currently touring the world. Titled “Lumieres d’Afrique” (The Light of Africa), it features 54 artists from each country on the continent and showcases some of the best artistic talents from Africa today. He has also been featured twice on the CNN television network.