Luis Meque painted this work one year before his untimely death in 1996. Born in Tete, Mozambique in 1966, Meque died at age 31 in 1997 in Harare, Zimbabwe of AIDS.
There are two titles at the back of the painting, one with a spelling error –Praing [Praying] for another day OR A prayer for life– presumably written by the artist. The painting shows two figures, one distinctly clad in white attire with a red hat on the right, apparently kneeling in prayer, whiles the other figure is in blue on the left. The red hat is reminiscent of Meque’s Ice Cream Vendors painting series, illustrating the artist’s signature handiwork. On the left is a figure clad in blue shirt with a luminescent yellow patch on his right arm. One of his pant legs is red. And the other is blue. The blue leg is raised in the air as if to kick the kneeling figure.
The colours play tricks on the mind and eye more with light and shadow. The background is an array of colours. One could spend a great deal of time wondering which colour came first and which one last, which ones have been created directly on the canvas, be they intentional mixtures or pure. They move and they guide the viewer in a colour wheel. From the top right corner, the yellows melt into orange. Then, a sharp black brush stroke defines the kneeling figure, and a new colour is introduced. A purple fades into grey and then to light blue. The chain repeats itself again in beautiful, soft brush strokes, which transforms into strong brush strokes.
The painting is absolutely striking, gushing with energy and powerful stokes. Yet, when one reflects on the title, one cannot help but me struck with sadness, the sadness that Meque must have been feeling himself.
Artist and Curator
Co-Founder/Co-Director Village Unhu
MA Student, AVVA, Bayreuth