This artist showcase comes from Liam Hassan Beserekumo. Liam is inspired by bright colours, abstract art, African art, his own imagination and his emotional state at the time of creating. He sees himself as working within the mainstream, bringing strands of outsider, disability and mainstream together to encourage social inclusion and overcome stigmatised labels such as ‘outsider.’
When did your interest in art/creating begin?
When I was a kid I ended up doing doodles when I was stressed. I lost a lot of my family and I used art as a therapy to bring out all my feelings. It was an outlet because I was holding on to bad feelings I wanted to make them into something positive and I used art to relax myself. When I was a kid in Liverpool I was bored and walked around a lot, I went to derelict buildings and explored and I would collect objects. This collecting became an important part of my creative process. I ended up dragging old wooden crates and getting a hammer and nailing them together to make a den structure to sit in in my garden.
I started using creativity more inside LHAP a special needs day centre. There, I made a college of a castle out of cardboard. I started then processing the work and working with the staff there. I realised that LHAP was not the right place for me; it was getting too loud for me to concentrate and I started working from my own studio in Woolwich.
What is your starting point for each piece?
I create abstract images that come from my own unique interpretation of things I encounter or find in my imagination. This could be found objects, buildings or landscapes. I usually draw on paper but then struggled transferring them onto canvas, the feelings were not going to the object once I had put them down on paper. It can be hard to process the work and copy it from the paper, so now sometimes I use a projector to project large images onto large canvases. I sometimes work from photographs, using the photo as a template.
The starting point is painting the background and after the background I start doing all the pencil lines and then I take a picture of it and then I start processing the paint until I am ready and satisfied it will give the right colours and visuals. I let myself go and relax I can go from the very small abstract to the big abstract.
Who/what influences your work?
I influence myself. I end up feeling sad in life and I need something to lean on and it ends up being art! Bright colours, abstract art, African art, my imagination and my emotional state at the time influence my work.
Also Steven Wiltshire is a big influence. When I found out about Steven Wiltshire I was influenced by his life as an artist and I used him as a role model for me to see myself doing artwork. Steven Wiltshire is a visual artist who works in realism, he has a visual mind and he also has autism.
What do you hope the viewer gets from your work?
I hope the viewer makes their own choices about what they see inside each piece. I do not put a title on any of my work and leave it open for the viewer to see anything they need or want to see and make their own interpretation or assumption. I don’t want to limit people’s understanding of my work.
What do you think about the term outsider art? Is there a term that you think works better?
I don’t really like the word outsider. I have learning disabilities but do not want to sell myself as a disabled artist, I am just myself. I believe in social inclusion and am interested in working within the mainstream, bringing outsider, disability and mainstream together. I want society to be more accepting of people.
What are you working on at the moment?
Recently have painted my largest canvases yet, I need to be feeling patient and relaxed and I make different kinds of marks with the paints when I am feeling different emotions. I am starting to experiment with painting furniture, I have done two tables but chairs are a bit too complex. I have no particular plan I just want to keep on going and creating and feeling stronger.
Where do you see your work taking you in the future?
I have considered trying to paint realism but my mind is set in abstract. I would like to think about making my own canvases in different shapes. I want to get far and feel no stress, I would like to make some more money from my art and I can see myself having my own gallery shop. I would love to do a solo show in my hometown of Liverpool. I am interested in doing my designs on clothes as well. I would like to do some community work and painting workshops for other disabled people, sharing my story of moving from institutions to working from own studio.