Behind the Angel’s Gate

Scrolling through Instagram, seeing what everyone is up to as the world is nearly a year into the pandemic. People are live streaming with their friends, posting freestyles and some people are exploring their talents and becoming better.

The seventeen-year-old Philadelphia artist, Eliezer (Israe) Lompo, has only been doing art for a year and a half. Early 2020 he took his art to his Instagram page, which has amassed over 2,000 followers. For him, art is a form of communication.

“The Earth Laughs in Flowers,” painting by Israe Lompo.

“This is kind of like how I talk,” Lompo said. “I’m not really a person who talks much, even towards my friends.”

What have you found from painting?

Israe Lompo: I feel like I speak through my art. I feel like I’m a person who boroughs up my emotions a lot. I feel like it’s a really, really good outlet to know. Especially when it’s in pictures, I think I’m a person who thinks in pictures under those people who like thinking words and stuff, but when I imagine it’s concrete to me, I can see images. So, I just put them down on the canvas and try to expose myself to that.

What inspires the art you make?

LMy spiritual background, I would say, I lowkey know the Bible from front to back. So, it’s just those stories that really interested me. It helps me develop a sense of imagery. I feel like that’s one of the most influential things.

The influences that he has in his art goes past his spirituality. Lompo looks up to other artists as well. As he started doing more research on the artists before him, he found Frida Kahlo to be one of his favorites. He said that she had such a tragic life and expressed that her art was influential.

He identifies more with impressionism in his art, which is more simplified, nearly exaggerating. “I’m literally just using brush strokes for all my paintings,” he explained. “And it takes the shape of what I’m trying to draw.”

Being a child of immigrant parents, do you think that plays a role in art that you make or don’t make?

L: I never really kind of made African art. There are some things like African folklore, like the sun and the moon. I really use those a lot. It’s kind of a motif that displays throughout my work. I would really love to start studying African work, though, and I feel like I could put my own twist to it.

What is your creative process?

LIt’s really a lazy one. Sometimes I could go like three weeks without doing a painting. At first, I would try to do a sketch a day, a painting a day, but I just realized that process is not for me.

“Raza’s Slumber/Gem Wrld 4,” painting by Israe Lompo.

The more that he would create, the more he knows that his ideas are almost sporadic. He gets the picture and then quickly rushes to complete it. “I don’t really take my time in the process,” he said. “It’s kind of like a rushed process.”

This process may look rushed to outsiders looking in at Lompo completing a work of art, but it is the perfect speed for him. When he is outside, feeling the fresh air and working on art, he can concentrate.

What motivates you to keep going?

L: When I paint, I get a feeling I don’t usually feel. I feel relaxed; I feel calm when I paint. I love the feeling of tranquility, peace and soft things. That’s what pushes me to paint more because each time I do it, I get more and more of that tranquility and peace.

Which one of your pieces has been the most fun to make?

LThere was this one piece I made using boxing gloves because the piece is called “Anger is Just Temporary Madness.’ It was a piece where I commented on myself and the rage I sometimes feel. And sometimes I don’t know when to let it go, so in this piece, I took a boxing glove, and I just started beating the canvas.

The more that Lompo is creating, the more that he hopes to gain happiness. Being 17 is a weird point in your life and wanting to rush into adulthood is normal, but he wants to relish at this moment. Focusing and taking one thing at a time is what he lacked last year.

“Last year was good, but I feel like I rushed myself,” he said. “And I’ll be focusing on putting in the work and not just accepting the bare minimum.”

What do you want people to gain when they see your art?

LI really want them to feel the peace that I feel when I look at my pieces, I try to give a symbolic feeling to my pieces. But at the same time, they’re also meant to console and heal people. I really hope that people feel the same vibe that I feel.

Has your life changed from you taking your art more seriously?

L: A lot of people have started treating me differently. I’m making paintings; I’m selling them a lot. I would say for my age; I’m doing pretty good as an artist. Now I feel like people are starting to give me that little status. I don’t think I like it a lot, because I feel like I’m still not there.

“Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream, Feet of Clay,” painting by Israe Lompo.

From his art, Lompo has been able to gain a new perspective on his life. Finding alternative ways of making a living for yourself at the age of 17 can do a lot for a young person. Experiencing art as a career by his own hands is something he never thought was possible.

“It just motivated me and lifted me out of the hardest times because I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he said. “After high school, I thought I was going to have to go to college, graduate college, get some regular job, but I realized I had a gift in me.”

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