At first, when viewing the Shabu @90 art exhibition by Baba Shabu at the Art House in Mamba Point, Monrovia one might think that the paintings on the wall don’t deserve a look, but that is not the case.
Unlike “representational art”, Shabu’s works, which are mostly abstract, require a depth of understanding to grasp the underlining it meaning.
“During the gallery walk-through, I felt discouraged at first, but little did I realize, the paintings have serious underlining meanings that are not just visible to ones naked eye,” said renowned cultural advocate Kekura Kamara. “For me, this is what makes Baba’s artworks unique. I was not a big fan of abstract arts until I came across Baba’s Artworks, which have exciting colors and textures.
Kamara continued: “By just glancing at a single piece of Baba’s artwork, it strongly grabs your attention and pulls an emotional response from within you. It is for this reason that Baba is constantly engaging into abstract painting to keep your mind thinking and analyzing and your eyes moving through the painting.”
The Art House, founded by Emmett Williams, is housing Shabu’s latest exhibit, which contains multiple collections, such as the Namuna Cloth; the 18 Gates Collections; Erotique Noire; and Hidden Segments Collections.
The 18 Gates and Erotique Noire collections focus on the travel experiences of Baba Shabu across several African countries; his life there and importance of freedoms.
Other artworks on display are a reflection of the painter’s artistic life, his emotions, and understanding of Liberia and West Africa, and the experiences of those around him and his family.
“This Art House is a place, which serves as a center for the rebirth of Liberian arts to maintain the progress made. The mission of the Art House is to promote contemporary African painting that celebrates the continent’s rich art history for generations to come,” Mama Shabu, who is also an artist said.
Baba Shabu, in appreciation of his contribution to Liberian artworks, became the first Liberian painter in postwar Liberia to have his paintings exclusively on display on the third floor of the Nation Museum of Liberia.
Liberian arts connoisseur and proprietor of the Art House, Emmett Williams, said his new establishment is a space intended to restore the long lost value of art in Liberia. The place is open for more exhibitions to fill the house.
Leslie Lumeh, renowned Liberia painter, described Baba Shabu as a highly talented and professional person that knows his job.
“The colors are great. I love them. The artworks are unique, because the artist works with known elements (symbols) that have strong underlying messages that are not [easily] visible to the eyes,” Lumeh said.
“For me, the artworks are about the promotion of culture, the colors are vibrant, and the messages of these painter are very strong,” US-based Liberian painter Lewinale Havette, said.