In a world inundated with artificial and digital alterations that often distort the perception of beauty, Rwandan visual artist Patrick Gusenga is championing the pure splendour of authenticity through his art. His work showcases African women as powerful symbols of natural beauty, strength, and resilience. Inspired by black African culture, especially African women, Gusenga was attracted by their strength and beauty, and then their vibrant spirit and melanin, which made him decide to feature them in his artworks. “In my painting,” he explained, “I use some bold colours but with different meanings. Specifically, I focus on those that represent black people: brown and black. Black is often associated with power, mystery, elegance, and strength, while brown represents warmth, earthiness, and stability.” ALSO READ: I started with sketches in school books - visual artist The 23-year-old artist also uses vibrant colours to represent the energy and vitality of African women, focusing on capturing their expressions, body language, and gaits with confident strides. “A movement portrayed in my artwork,” he continued, “represents how they are unstoppable. I’ve also decided to use semi-realism techniques in my paintings to ensure that they are as attractive as black-skinned women.” Gusenga believes that promoting self-love and acceptance among black women is crucial for fostering a positive and inclusive society. He finds it disheartening that societal pressures and prevailing beauty standards can sometimes obscure the profound cultural beauty that black women possess, causing them to underestimate their own unique beauty and worth. “Through my art, I help promote self-love among black women and empower them to embrace their unique features and heritage. This motivates them to be confident and believe in themselves. It can also inspire them to feel proud of their own skin. They deserve to know more about their culture and the gold they carry,” he said. ALSO READ: Sisterhood Of The Arts: A pop-up exhibition by Rwandan women artists Gusenga recognises the fact that in today's society, some black women may feel compelled to use makeup or undergo s#urgical procedures in order to meet certain beauty standards imposed by societal pressures. This concerning trend appears to be on the rise. He said that raising awareness through his art contributes to his community of blacks (Africans) and could help in slowing down the issues, which he said lead African women to self-rejection, harmful beauty standards, and mental illnesses, which could lead to death. “I believe that all those bad impacts can be prevented when my art is showcased to them and when they are taught to see how beautiful they are,” he said. “This will be achieved by embracing and uplifting our own unique beauty. We can help create an empowering environment for black girls and women.” Gusenga’s art is often connected to his surroundings as both his interactions and observations bring depth and creativity to his art. He said that living with African women in his everyday life allows him to witness their beauty, strength, and resilience, which shapes his artistry. ALSO READ: How a young artist is pushing the boundaries of art The artist has exhibited his work at several exhibitions and galleries, including Inshuti Arts. He has also participated in public art projects, notably contributing to the artistic ambiance of popular places like the BK Arena. He said his art serves as a conduit connecting him to the world, and he is enthusiastic about sharing his passion to inspire others through his creative expressions. Gusenga plans to curate exhibitions that celebrate the natural beauty of women, free from the constraints of makeup or surgery. Additionally, he aspires to forge partnerships with various organisations to amplify the message of empowerment and celebrate the resilience and strength of women globally.