Francois Beaurain

 

 

 

 

 

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Painted movie posters from Liberia

The first video clubs appeared in Liberia end of the 80’s/beginning of the 90’s with the import of the first VHS recorders. Video clubs were informal small cinemas screening VHS (or Betamax) tapes imported mostly from the US. There must have been hundreds of these VC in the country, most of them still exist but screen football games now. The idea of asking painters to “print” (or “draw”, these are the words used by VC owners) some posters emerged in the early 90’s (most probably 1994) at Rocktown or Movie Land, the two most dynamic video clubs of Monrovia. This movie business must have peaked in the middle of the 90’s and declined slowly because of the growing popularity of the Nigerian cinema (so-called Nollywood). Most the VC stopped screening movies somewhere between years 2000-2005.


The collection consists of 83 paintings (39 collected in 2013-2014, 17 in 2016 and 27 in 2018) representing American action, African and kung-fu movies. There are two poster’s measures, 4’ * 3’ and 3’ * 2’. Most posters consist of enamel paint on plastic tablecloth, but there are also a few watercolors and a few posters on paper or cotton cloth. Tablecloth was preferred to primed cotton canvas because it was thought more resistant (posters were nailed outside on any kind of support, exposed to the sun and the rain) and cost efficient. It was not an easy task to find the posters as most of the video-clubs have long dumped their piles of posters. Not many video clubs kept an archive, most posters from this collection were found under a mattress or nailed on the tin-roof to make the projection room darker.


The style of the Liberian posters is less exuberant than their Ghanaian counterparts. Liberian painters were just asked to copy the VHS cover. From what I could understand, the idea to paint some posters seem to have emerged independently from any influence from Ghana, just inspired from a local practice of painting billboards and shop signs.

 

 

 

 

 

“The buddhist fist”
By George S. Josiah, 1997

painted poster, liberia, movie poster

 

 

“Robin Hood”
By George S. Josiah, 1998

painted poster, liberia, movie poster

 

 

 

 

“Fair Game”

painted poster, liberia, movie poster

 

 

“The Mummy”
By HK Wiah Arts

 

 

 

“Sakobi, the snake girl”
By George S. Josiah, 1998

painted poster, liberia, movie poster

 

 

 

“Desperado”
By George S. Josiah, 1998

painted poster, liberia, movie poster

 

 

“Invasion USA”
By D.Wolobah, 1997

 

 

 

“Home alone 2”
By D.Wolobah, 1997

 

 

“Damage”
By M.Jorgbor, 1997

 

 

 

“The world of Drunken Master”
By Mansa