The True Spirit of “Water”

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An arts exhibition hosted by Leslie Lumeh, visual artist and director of the visual arts school (LiVArts), this week displayed his recent paintings illustrating the different ways in which water is used in Liberia.

Lumeh, who has been described by CNN as “Liberia’s most celebrated artist”, has visually and through the mind's eye captured the colorless, transparent, odorless and tasteless liquid that forms the seas, lakes, rivers and rain, known as water.

The embassy of France in Monrovia presented the exhibition to a gathering that included diplomats and other professionals working in Liberia. Amongst the many that were present was Swedish Ambassador Sofia Strand, who did not hide her admiration of the paintings.

“I like these very much,” she said, “and am happy to see the way Leslie highlighted the different ways water can be used.”

When asked about her own feelings towards the importance of using water and how she felt about the paintings, the ambassador was more than delighted to share.

“The painting titled ‘The Rain’ is the one I like; and looking at it, I see a lot of different things that make me feel a lot of different ways. All good ways,” Amb. Strand stated.

The invited guests feasted their eyes on the various paintings that displayed women and children fetching water at local hand pumps, trucks bringing in water supplies for communities, two children sitting on a canoe, among others, including the famous painting titled “The Rain.”

“What you are seeing here tonight,” Lumeh told the audience, “is actually a representation of our dear Liberia.”

In particular, according to Leslie, 90% of the pieces in the “Water” collection were painted using water, which is considered a necessity and a “basis of living organisms”.

“Man can go without certain things, but not without water” he added.

Meanwhile, students of the Liberia Visual Arts (LiVArts) Academy who were recently awarded during the Accountability Lab drawing contest, were also invited and performed live face paintings on each other, which seemed to transform the kids into characters such as old men and animals.

Amongst them was a 13 year-old aspiring artist named Fernandez, who takes private painting classes.

“I love painting and have been doing it since I was 4 years old. I want to get into illustrations now and like being taught by Mr. Leslie,” she said.  

Meanwhile, the American Ambassador Deborah Malac, who was present at the exhibition, commended Lumeh for his collection on water.

“Leslie is talented and we support this. Every year we have an art fair to promote arts in our embassy and will be having one on May 10, 2014 right in the embassy compound. We also have paintings done by Liberians in our building and will continue to promote arts and craft,” Amb. Malac said.

Lumeh has assured that 10% of the proceeds from sales at the exhibition will go toward the sustainability of the LiVArts Academy.

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