Leevans Linyerera says he gets his inspiration from human behaviour and emotion. His latest series of paintings were inspired by a visit to Korando Centre, a children’s home in Kisumu town in western Kenya, where Linyerera taught art techniques such as human form, light and shadows using recycled waste.
“There was a lot of trash around the home, so we collected it and used it for art,” he said.
Linyerera is presenting his new work at an exhibition at the British Institute of East Africa in Nairobi. On one wall of the upstairs gallery are five or six monochrome paintings titled Letters, Words, Lines and Light.
These expressionist illustrations cover activities that Linyerera observed at the centre — students digging in a field and playing football. They are ordinary scenes, but what is most striking is the play of light on the people and objects.
One of his drawings, painted in ink and acrylics on canvas, is of students standing outside holding books in their raised hands. Their attention is focused outside the frame of the image.
It is full of shadows, lines and light as the sun shines brilliantly on their dark faces and upright books. The viewer is drawn into the moment, wondering if the picture is of academic jubilation or defiance.
In another black-and-white painting, boys and girls are playing football on a bright sunny day. I gazed a little longer at the brilliance of light on the heads and bent backs of the players. You can almost feel the heat of the day.
“I like to experiment with different techniques,” said Linyerera, who studied under veteran artist Patrick Mukabi of the Dust Depo art studio, Nairobi.
On the opposite wall of the gallery is a set of colourful abstract paintings. He says that these are the counterparts of the black and white paintings.
“I put colour in the abstracts because I think they bring out emotion,” he said. The exhibition will run until October 13.