Spotlight – Brima Woloba

In his latest series, Brima Woloba, Liberian painter, reveals the heart of his inspiration: an effortless and unpretentious translation of the rural scenes of Lofa, North Eastern Liberia where he was born. It is an honest visual story telling of the resilience and simple joys of village life.

You feel a calm and sense that the artist is unassuming in his mastery when you see Brima’s artwork. You immediately recognize the unique abstract stick figure style popular in modern African paintings, but what sets Brima apart is his restraint, the control he so easily exerts in transmitting the emotions he wants the you to feel. He uses a few primary colors, playing with their hues and light with quick paint brush strokes purposefully placed, bringing to life the rich Liberian rural landscapes that have otherwise been underappreciated because of the hardship of living conditions.

There is complexity and depth to his work but no guile or fanciful strokes. Brima is not trying to convince you of the beauty of his work. You feel it, because it is true. His canvases bustle with nuances only a gifted artist, passionate and familiar with their subject can create.

Greys, black and white, with a few yellow dots and the night breeze of a village sleeping under moonlight, ripples across the canvas. Bright yellows and vivid greens, students running under the rain on a small village road, and you feel the excitement as they hurry to school. 

Who is Brima and how did he become a painter is the next question you ask? At the age of 7 years old in the heat of the civil war, Brima and his family fled to neighboring Guinea. There, young Brima had the freedom once again to play outside without fear. When the other children huddled together to

 “play marble” Brima spent hours, head down, intently drawing in the sand. “I started to draw constantly in the sand because there was no paper”. For a young child in the village where they lived, this was highly unusual and drew a lot of curiosity. “My late grandmother encouraged me to continue because it kept me out of trouble”. There, Brima’s art became his escape and salvation.

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