Home » Arts & Culture » Fitting Tribute to Luis Meque

Once again Gallery Delta Foundation for Art and the Humanities has paid tribute to one of the significant magical painters of the 90s with a month-long painting exhibition titled “The Magic of Meque”. The art show reminded us of the magic of creativity that a dedicated artist can unleash especially when his artworks are not being made through dire necessities, but have much to say, create a direct link between art and societal values as well as being streetwise witness to people of the time and ask us to introspect and face realities affecting us.

Luis Meque, a Mozambican who first came to Zimbabwe in 1986 as a refugee enrolled at the famous BAT Visual Arts Workshop of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe to embark on his career.

A career that took him places and saw him being rewarded with a handful of awards for his power of creativity. He died in 1998.

“The Magic of Meque” showcased 29 paintings that were made with uncontrolled-like powerful brush strokes of raw colour to express what he saw and felt. He frequented various Harare pubs and streets of the high-density suburbs where most of the poor lived, capturing their way of life in unique painting abstraction.

“Drinking Man”, created in 1995 on card using mainly acrylics and other water based paints is one such paintings that portrayed the nightclub life with bold brush strokes of dripping raw paint, blues shot with greens, red dribbling into black for the browns, colours floating into and absorbing each other with titanium white illuminating the otherwise dull painting.

The greyish-pale red boozer’s facial expression dominated by black hairs around it gave the motionless man an undisputed character that generates compelling magnetic force to the viewer.

Luis Meque loved to create sketchy figurative artworks as evident in both his paintings and drawings. Some of his dominant art pieces if not most of them looked unfinished to the ordinary eye, yet fully complete in a daring technique. Considerable areas of the painting surfaces were left untouched especially in-between his critical subjects.

They were left for the viewer to complete with his eyes and imagination.

“Carpenter” done in mixed media on card in 1996 is such a testimonial painting of Meque’s simplified fluidity of his technique. It portrayed a thickblue-black linear crouching man filled in by broad light blue brush strokes from top to bottom working on his ladder planks with his right leg and the concentrating head in-between his working arms.

An object like a tool box in the foreground on his right contains an array of indistinguishable objects in darkness. The better part of the painting is in washes and typical unpainted surface areas.

Only the untitled portrait of his earlier paintings of 1992 had every square inch covered in thick paint with much caution on the features of the eyes looking down male portrait wearing a red lined military-like hat. Other fascinating paintings of the show included a huge canvas titled “Self Portrait with Gwen”, “Builder”, “Nude”, “Reclining Figure”, “Pupil”, “Bar”, “Guys”, “Mask” and a set of four sketch book pencil drawings.

The tribute exhibition was a befitting grateful gesture to one artist, who had emerged as one of the painting leaders of the new generation of independent Zimbabwe, giving an alternative to the dominance of the so-called Shona Stone Sculpture in the visual arts. The continual selling of Meque’s work at Gallery Delta’s selected exhibitions provides a life line for his son based in Epworth at Domboramwari Visual Art Centre founded and directed by established local artist Mambakwedza Mutasa.

Source : The Herald

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