Growing up, I never considered becoming an artist

Related event

New Master Samuel Lemba and our team went through the Royal Museum of Fine Arts to check out Aimé Mpane and Rachel Labastie’s exhibition. During our tour, we got the chance to talk about his work, memories and some thoughts about African artists.

In collaboration with Please Add Color

Can you introduce yourself? 

My name is Samuel Lemba, I am 22 years old and I am a student at La Cambre. I used to play football. The whole idea of becoming an artist came quite late in my life. I was injured and couldn't play anymore. At that point, a lot changed for me because I had to ask myself who I wanted to be in life. It allowed me to get to know myself, who I am and what I want.

I had to ask myself where I wanted to be in life

What do you think about the exhibition? 

It is a very beautiful exhibition in sentimental terms. The objects reminded me of moments in life and specific situations... After getting a closer look, I could feel a great sensitivity of the artists in expressing themselves. In technical terms, it was also very beautiful and very well made!


I think the Aimé Mpane and Rachel Labastie exhibition has a symbolic value. Would you say that your creations also have such a meaning?

Yes. I would say my work has a political meaning.  As a black person you get more sensitive to certain stories and you want to express certain feelings and emotions. I could identify with some of Aimé’s work. I know he is Congolese, just like me. It’s very touching.



What are you thinking about now? 

I’m thinking about how the environment where we live and grow up has such an influence on our work. And how differently artistic works can be seen in Africa and in Europe.

My work has a completely different value here and in Africa



Do you think that your work has any aspects in common with the works we have just seen?

It really depends on how the artists themselves see their work. There is a mixture between sculpture and painting. If I analyse them as paintings, I would say that we have a lot in common when it comes to the colours we use. From what I see we both like very bright colours. These days I am working and researching on this topic.


I read that you are interested in the representation of black women in your paintings. Can you talk about this?

I think it might have something to do with the fact that I didn't grow up with my mother. Maybe there is a certain search for a female presence. But despite that, I got the chance to grow up surrounded by other women. There are certain behaviours and certain things that I believe I am able to understand about women. My way of seeing women has been constructed in this way, with some contradictions. This could perhaps explain the influence of the female figure in my work.


We have seen that Rachel Labastie's work has a close relationship with her memories. Is it the same for you when it comes to your creations?

Absolutely. The main source for work is memory. Sometimes it comes from an object that reminds me of something. It's a bit of an artist’s cliché to say that my creations are about my experience, but that's just how it is. 


What about your creative process? 

My creative process is based on composition. I get inspiration from something like an image or an object... Then I will make a collage. From this collage, I usually make something else. I could say that the major element of what I do is composition.



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