It’s Monday and you deserve a sweet story. How about one about Leku Ivan, the painter kid in Uganda who uses the money from his paintings to buy his sister new dresses in the absence of their parents?
Last October, Ivan was featured in The Daily Monitor. Here’s the story:
The paintings of artist Ivan Leku, 19, may not ring a bell on the first look. They may seem like any other paintings, like the ones for decorating our rooms or office walls.
But on closer and careful observation, one gets fascinated with beautiful graphical illustration of the abstract paintings in acrylics.
The paintings send a striking message about the lives of the African street children, of children living a deplorable life, yet covered with jolly faces.
No Ordinary Painting
“This is not just an ordinary painting. I am trying to relay how our children are suffering on the streets,” Leku says. “All these children need is love and care so that they are transformed.”
Leku says from his experience as a street child for more than 10 years, he knows the challenges street children go through. “From my talent as an artist, I think it is worthwhile telling the world about these children through my paintings,” Leku says, adding: “My ambition at the moment is to ensure that the local people and the government take up responsibilities of looking after the street children who could be in possession of good talents.”
Passion for art
Leku says art has been his passion since childhood. He acquired practical art skills from Jinja Art shop, where he had been undergoing training in abstract and landscape paintings.
“Even in my childhood, no one thought I could be an artist. But because I had people around me who believed that art was what can earn me a living, they groomed me and today, they appreciate my skills,” says Leku.
He began commercial painting in 2010.
With Shs400,000, he rented a room in Gulu Town, which serves as his work station.
In order to reduce the rent he pays, he shares the room with two other artists. On how and where he sells his products, Leku says it is mostly at exhibition shows, trade fairs and hotels, targeting mainly foreign customers who seem to be more interested in his art pieces.
He says some of his clients constitute foreigners, who place their orders and have their goods sent to them and the money sent to him through Western Union.
Leku says he intends to turn his workshop into a free training class for street children, whose lives, he says, are considered wasted.
“I want these children to learn practical art skills for their future life sustenance,” says Leku.
Those foreign clients who place orders and send money via Western Union? That’s you, sweet Vigilantes. You’re making a difference in Ivan’s life. In turn, he’s sharing his heart and his talent with street kids in Gulu.
Want to buy one of Ivan’s paintings? Click here to see a handful of his remaining pieces and the paintings of the other artists who share his shop.