Lawrence Kwakye (1972, Utrecht) painted his first painting when he was thirteen and with it, unknowingly opened the door to his artistic career. The famous writer and illustrator Tomi Ungerer called him an ‘undeniable talent’ at the time and compared him to the main character in Albert Camus’ novel ‘The Stranger’. As the son of a Ghanaian father and Hungarian mother, raised in the Netherlands, he was constantly exposed to surprises and changes in life and as such automatically developed a ‘contrasting’ view of the world, essential for the magical layering in his later work. Nothing is what you think it is.
After secondary school, Lawrence completed his study ‘Man and Leisure time’ at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, where Lidewij Edelkoort was a guiding force. Unmistakable heritage from that time is the functional and conceptual impact of the many paintings he continued to create alongside his job as designer. Until 2010 when he changed course, established himself as an independent artist and his artistic career gained momentum.
Kwakye’s cultural diversity, his sense of aesthetics, his technical innovative drive and his fascination for transition, or in other words the process of change are clearly reflected in his current work. The result is accessible, the viewer picks it up straight away, but then seduces him into a discussion about what you actually see; it is what it is. Harmony versus disharmony. Kwakye’s visual work keeps on communicating.
Being LK | My artist statements
I like to create portals so people can switch dimensions and make new connections.
I connect people so they can inspire and motivate each other and raise value consciousness.
You don’t become an artist or a designer but you just recognize that there is one in you. In my case as long as I can remember I was making things while playing with ideas or fantasising about alternative civilizations. I grew up amidst an intriguing mix of social and cultural backgrounds and I am convinced that this has left an unavoidable and distinctive mark on my work as an artist and a designer. My parents both doctors and from different continents and cultures taking care of people professionally made me aware of human vulnerability. Unfortunately in today’s society it is unsafe to show you are vulnerable. My challenge as an artist and designer is to create portals to new existential concepts where people feel safe and are able to respect differences and focus on the quality of the life of all living beings on earth.