3 European Realist Painters in Lamu,
an Exhibition at the Peponi Hotel Library 25.02. – 15.04.2012
“Painting is a way to look at the world more intensely.” Piet Groenendijk
Even cleared of books, the Peponi Hotel library remains an intimate room where hints of stories hang in the air. Paintings have stolen the magic of words: from every wall canvases suggest their own narratives through expressive brushstrokes and a rich colour palette that evokes the tropicality of Lamu in measured realist tones. The works on show are by Jürgen Leippert, Piet Groenendijk and Peter Schunter.
The exhibition at Peponi displayed the output of the men’s month long stay as Artists in Residence. Jürgen and Piet had previously visited the island to participate in the 2011 Lamu Painters Festival. Both work regularly en plein air, and like the heightened challenge of this activity in Lamu where the light is so intense. Peter stopped painting outdoors about ten years ago, but in Lamu he began again.
The three painters have a long acquaintance, going back decades, and this familiarity meant they worked well together. Juergen’s whirlwind artistic temperament was slightly tamed by the other two: “Their more quiet, contemplative style calmed me a bit,” he admits. After working in the studio for the last years, Peter felt inspired by his colleagues and the plein air setting to loosen his brushstrokes. “I got freer by doing many studies in my sketchbooks,” he says. For Piet, the main support of his colleagues was simply in starting to paint: “When one begins, the other thinks – ‘Oh, I can’t just keep sitting here doing nothing.’”
They were, however, all unanimous about stopping regularly for a drink at the legendary Peponi Bar, and it was here, sipping Tusker beers with the cool kaskazi breeze at their backs, that the idea for an exhibition crystallized. The artists curated the show together, achieving a harmonious arrangement that subtly emphasized their different styles and sensibilities. What unified the work above all, was its power to give impressions of Lamu that, in moments, may seem truer, thanks to their fixed quality, than the ever-shifting nature of the real world that inspired them.