Art, Not ‘Boxed in’ by Parameters- In Conversation With Africa Vee

Africa Vee
Africa Vee

I continue to find inspiration from many contemporaries, particularly artists who continue to create colourful, diverse and varied styles of work. One of these is Parisian Véronique Lunkutu, aka Africa Vee.

How long have you been painting and what inspires you?

I took a serious interest in art at the age of twenty-five. I have never attended any formal painting classes so my technique is my own and my talent is evolving through trial and error.  Some would say that you acquire perfection with the technique.  I would say that art is not a pursuit of perfection; it is a question of feeling.  My paintings are not perfect, but what is perfection in the end?  It is imperfect as we are imperfect.  Many artists are naturally gifted. This natural gift, this free spirit attitude, is reflected in my work because it is not governed by constraints. It is not “boxed in” by parameters.

I have dual heritage, my mother is from Belgium and my father is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. When I first decided to pursue painting, I never asked myself where it would lead me. However, my feelings and inspiration led me naturally to my Afro-European roots and is in recognition of the African diaspora.

Many of my paintings depict African Women in traditional garb and styles of hair.  These paintings depict a female perspective in the world today, especially the perspective of how African women are viewed and perceived as regards their cultural ethnicity and beauty.  In some ways, it represents my perspective and my vision as an Afro-European woman.

What is your preferred medium and why?

I paint on canvas.  I utilize acrylics because I find that it permits me to really bring out the color palette.  The colours are more vibrant, intense and deep.

You have a distinctive and admirable style.  Can you explain the process you adopt for producing your work?

I mostly paint indoors during the day, alone in a peaceful environment with music, always music!  I love music so I always paint with music in the background.  Some would think that music would be a distraction but for me it produces an environment that is conducive to painting.  Instead of being interference, the music puts my mind in a state of being and allows me to concentrate in a relaxed environment during the painting process.  My musical influences are a mixture of African and European artists, plus black music in general.  I guess it represents my bi-racial heritage.

I usually make sketches before I paint and I decide the color choices at that moment.  However, painting is also spontaneous.  So often, I go with the flow and allow my feelings to pick the color choices.  So some color choices are predetermined and some are spontaneous.

How do you manage the commercial/income generating aspects of being an artist?

I currently paint for the pure joy of painting.  However, I am not opposed to commercial recognition of my work, or income generation as an expression of the buyers’ appreciation of my work.  To be an artist as my full time occupation would be a dream come true.

Woman With Two Faces
Woman With Two Faces

So what projects are you currently working on?  What career aspirations do you have for the immediate future?

My current project and career aspirations at this time are tied together.  I would like to have the opportunity to display my work in an exhibit.  Not initially one that would produce income, but an exhibit in which my work could simply be shared with others

I recently created and designed my webpage http://Africaveearts.com as a means to share my art with others.  I also maintain a presence on the various social media outlets.  I have a Facebook page as well as postings on Twitter, Instagram, and I am a member of Blackartinamerica.

Art is about freedom and creative expression. Being an artist is first and foremost about feeling free to create. It is about expressing what is inside you, expressing something that potentially others have not expressed before or have expressed in a different way. It is about expressing what you want and maybe even need to express.  I feel free to express myself by painting. Some people will catch a part of my emotions and life’s struggles in my work, others will not.  It is all is question of perception, but the most important thing is that painting is a way to deliver peace and love.  And that is what I want to do. I’m grateful to have the chance to share my work and my emotions with others through my art.