Lewinale Havette

Lewinale Havette

Artist Lewinale Havette
Photo: Chris Evans

As the nightingale singing alone at night, epitomises the idea of enchantment and mystery, so does the colour of night, when the moon illuminates the structures and shapes against the midnight blue of a sky, just as a silhouette is haunting and inviting; it is this elusive charm that envelops you with Lewinale’s artworks. Her paintings are a mixed media assembly of photography, Japanese ink, acrylic and oil paints that embrace this depth and mystery of the blackness of a night and the moonbeams that wrap and glow; or bold luminous reds, ochres and umbers, emphasising a labyrinth of the human condition. She observes the most ordinary and intimate moments of domestic life with a revolution of colour, highlighting the changes in a day or the tranquillity of peace. She describes the space in her studio as converting memories, visions and dreams. “My artwork debunks the historical power structure systems that had once surrounded me, shedding light on who I was, who I became, and who I am becoming”. Now living in between New York and Atlanta with her husband, her paintings encompass her journey from her roots, from where she was born and raised in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, on the coast of central Africa. This country noted as a settlement for freed American slaves who were sent from the United States, at the start of the abolishment of the slave trade, with the belief that their lives would be less fraught on the African continent than in the United States. However the complexities of African Americans having to integrate with the local Liberian residents was complex, from cultural, to religions and language, she explains.

Artwork Lewinale Havette
Portrait of a Liberian Girl by Lewinale Havette
Artwork Lewinale Havette
Blue Likes Drinking Holy water by Lewinale Havette
Artwork Lewinale Havette
New Painting by Lewinale Havette
Artwork Lewinale Havette
Female Homosapien by Lewinale Havette

Lewinale’s artworks reflect the insightful journey from a young girl moving from Liberia to Côte d’Ivoire, (The Ivory Coast), she indicates this transition was due to the civil war. Her father was well known, it was too dangerous to stay in the country, his ancestors coming from American ex slavery heritage and her mother from the more indigenous Africans in Liberia, which created tensions. She describes the differences between the rigid conservative impact of neighbouring Liberia in contrast to the open and less repressed Ivorians, emphasising the influences of music, art and culture whilst living in Côte d’Ivoire. At the age of 10 however, her parents moved to the United States. Her father ran his own church, he took the opportunity to study theology and create a life with more opportunities for his family, first moving to New York, and then settling in Alabama. Here Lewinale spent the next 15 years of her formative youth, she reveals that her interest in art was always present, always expressing herself in music and painting. Describing her introverted lifestyle with a strict mother, who had endured extensive suffering, and in turn educated Lewinale and her two sisters on a strong moral compass of how they should behave as women.

Artwork Lewinale Havette
The Prophet by Lewinale Havette
Artwork Lewinale Havette
Re-Membering by Lewinale Havette
Artwork Lewinale Havette
Haven by Lewinale Havette

Lewinale attended the University of Alabama where she studied art for three years, before embarking on a scholarship to study a science based degree in Medical sales. After graduating she moved to Atlanta, describing her desire to explore the metropolis. Her love of big cities came from her rebellion at 18, when she was sneaking off to New York to do modelling assignments without her parent’s knowledge. We laugh and joke as she educates me on how Atlanta is the actual cultural heartbeat of contemporary art and artists, in contrast to Alabama. It was her job working in an art gallery in Atlanta, that finally opened the door of opportunity, her new position as a sales rep, she embarked on accidentally selling her own paintings. “It all happened unintentionally” she exclaims, as if the arrows in her life pointed in the direction of her being an artist, at the time working with a more abstract style; using the impasto technique, the thick paint style, used by artists such as Van Gogh, Diego Velázquez and Jackson Pollock.

Artwork Lewinale Havette
A Monday Afternoon in the City by Lewinale Havette
Artwork Lewinale Havette
Everything’s Beautiful in the Sun by Lewinale Havette
Artwork Lewinale Havette
I want to know what the Gods Know by Lewinale Havette
Artwork Lewinale Havette
Persist by Lewinale Havette

I asked her if she could buy a painting from any artist, who would she choose, and she mentions, Kehinde Wiley, the artist famous for his rich colourful portraits of young Americans, including his portrait of Barack Obama. This influence, the educational tone and rich narrative is prevalent in Lewinale’s paintings, it is this combination of history, the sumptuous ideals of a beauty in her portraits, intertwined with the modern everyday. She has always been focused on the female figure, “I always admired the beauty of the female form” she says. Her paintings from her ‘Honour Your Mother’ series represent the idea of the Mitochondrial Eve, the mother of humanity, conceived to have originated from eastern Africa to value the gift of knowledge that the mother bestows upon us. It is still present in her recent works, the captivating colour of night, the royal blue that is witnessed within the clear skies of Africa, as the moon brushes its light on the ocean water. Representing the African Americans relationship with water, symbolising the journey of slaves crossing the Atlantic, some jumping overboard, or sick passengers thrown into the oceans as they were not considered useful. Lewinale is proud of her heritage she tells me, and this desire to educate as to the origins of African Americans is relevant. As with all history, it is the delving into the detail, so we understand the broader picture, for whatever we miss in the context of things, opinions develop and where the misunderstandings can occur on misrepresented facts. 

Her next show is scheduled to run at the Young Space 21 May – 20 June 2021

Interview: Antoinette Haselhorst

artwork Lewinale Havette
The Prophet with Lewinale Havette

4 Replies to “Lewinale Havette”

  1. Your article poignantly illuminates the colorful beauty and rich history of Lewinale’s art. I’ve known the artist since she was a child living in Alabama. My heart beats with pride and my soul sings for joy as I have watched this sweet, talented child develop into a lovely young woman destined for greatness. May God’s blessings propell you both to heights you can only imagine.
    Ms. Dorlesta
    4/26/21

    1. Dear Ms Dorlesta
      Thank you for your beautiful message, it has been a pleasure to meet and feature Lewinale. Your kinds words gratefully appreciated. With kindest regards. Antoinette

  2. Very enjoyable art, I wish Lwenale great success. However, this article ignores several facts about slavery. First, Lewinale’s African ancestors were captured and enslaved by other Africans who then sold them to the slavers who brought them to America. Second, slavery still exists in Africa today as well as in the Middle East and Asia.

    1. Thank you for message. Pleased you enjoying Lewinale’s work. The interview is her personal journey. Best regards Antoinette

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