'Art means integration, inclusion, breaking loneliness and living like everyone else'.
For Richard Lusakumunu, art is both an expression of communication and a form of therapy to help integrate people in their new society. He wants to use his paintings to reach inside people's mind and release their problems - to get out what is inside of them.
Before moving to France, Richard studied at the Kinshasa Academy of Fine Arts in The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In 2017, he had to flee from the country. He managed to reach the Greek island of Samos by boat the same year. Around a year later, he received asylum in Greece and moved to Thessaloniki.
Since then, Richard has conveyed his passion for art to the forcibly displaced by initiating and engaging in several art projects in refugee camps. He has given painting lessons to camp residents and uses the lessons to scout for artistic talent among the participants.
'In the refugee camps you meet people who want a better life', he says. 'Everyone has their own background, and art is a way of communicating this. In all our creations, there is a common point, a crossing, where we try to talk about our past'.
In 2018, Richard established the art collective 'Mazi' or 'together' in Greek that brings together refugees and Greek artists. As such, the collective serves as a culturally rich space for people with different backgrounds and experiences to create art together. Supported by UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the non-profit NAOMI and the French Institute in Thessaloniki, the collective has already held three exhibitions at the French Institute. 'We do not speak the same language, it is painting that unites us'.
Richard is currently residing in France.
Metamorphosis: mixing between caterpillars and butterflies. Life is high and low but in facing a difficult situation, we must always have hope because at night, even if it is late, the sun finally appears. (© Richard Lusakumunu | 2020 | 60x80cm | Oil on canvas)
Collectif MAZI painting a mural and talking about their group. (© Collectif MAZI)
La créolisation | 2019 | 100x120cm | Oil on canvas, collage (© Richard Lusakumunu)
The choice of the spouse | 2015 | Oil on canvas (© Richard Lusakumunu)
Gamos ! Le mariage ! Wedding ! | 60x70cm | Oil on canvas, acryl, collage (© Richard Lusakumunu | 60x70cm | Oil on canvas, acryl, collage)
Richard Lusakumunu at French Institute in Thessaloniki (© Collectif MAZI)
L'art n'a pas de frontières! (2020), Collectif MAZI, French Institute, Thessaloniki
Art has no limits. Art goes beyond borders. Art unites us.
Muntu ya Simera (2020), Collectif MAZI, French Institute, Thessaloniki
Translated as 'The Man of Today', the exhibition is about the human being today and in the future. The world of the past, and the world of the present are two very different things. Through the views of the artists and what they think of modern living, the exhibition seeks to reflect on our surroundings and the dynamic of a world in constant transformation. Induced with both darkness and humor, the exhibition also critically reflect on visual and artistic representations of refugees and other migrants, as well as contemporary moments of resistance across borders and interactions between migrants and host communities.
Mimonisa (2019), Collectif MAZI, French Institute, Thessaloniki
- Artist spotlight of Richard Lusakumunu