B 1970 (Liberia)
Through the eyes of the visionary refugee artist JOHNSON WEREE, all are beautiful. Working from a community library and living without a permanent home, WEREE’s practice involves drawing from early morning until late at night creating surreal and otherworldly portraits of imagined subjects.
As child in Liberia WEREE salvaged discarded materials for his creations. Using battery fluid for paint and scrap wood for canvass, his limited access to media made him come to cherish colour. Now he works with ballpoint pens, gels, pencils and pastels with a palette of unlimited vibrancy.
WEREE’s subjects stare unapologetically from the paper, arresting the viewer with their confident piercing eyes. Dog noses sit close to thin lips and mens’ hairlines recede. The woman of WEREE’s world have bright blushed cheeks and wear multi-coloured eye shadow. Often figures appear within figures, emerging from buttonholes or like a third-eye in the centre of a forehead.
WEREE’s pictures are unlike any others. Though they may follow the composition of traditional portraiture they are unencumbered by it’s limitations.
Looking at WEREE’s work my be akin to confronting a mirror that reveals an alternate reality. One where we are confident and bold, dressed like kings and queens - a world of irrepressible beauty.
WEREE’s works are in private collections and have been exhibited internationally by The Museum of Everything.