Congo is a cultural hub, a vibrant country where striking art is all around. Working across a number of mediums, from Afrofuturism, sculpture, visual arts, there are so many talented Congolese artists that need to be brought to the spotlight. From Patrick Mutombo to Patrick Madenge and Kayo Mpoyi, here’s our guide to five contemporary African artists from Congo you should know.
Kayo Mpoyi, is a Congolese artist who lives in Sweden, she attends the Royal Institute of Art Stockholm. Even though she is still on the road to discover which art movement she really loves, all her pieces’ inspiration come from her background, life stories and experiences. She is inspired by artists like Bisa Butler who finds ways to understand and connect history through art. Apart from art, Mpoyi also has a passion for history and writing novels. In fact, she is a published author who debuted her novel Mai betyder vatten, which means “water” in 2019 in Swedish and will be published in three additional languages – French, German and Finnish next year. The book explores the story of Congolese girl growing up in Tanzania and her great grandmother who was thought to have died in captivity. She is currently exploring and studying her African ancestry. As she continues her road to self–discovery and deepens her knowledge in fine arts, she plans on writing more books, exploring sculpture and performance arts.
Patrick Mutombo, the self-taught Congolese artist states that his love for art and painting started at a young age while living in the capital of DRC – Kinshasa. He often reminisces on his visits to his family friend’s studio who was an artist. That is where he first encountered the medium for which he developed a deep affection later in life, oil painting. Many years later, Patrick’s family migrated to Belgium in Europe. Patrick was then able to pursue a professional basketball career in Italy and Greece after completing his schooling in Denver, Colorado. While in Greece, he recalls going through challenging times in his life. That period served as a catalyst for him to reacquaint himself with art. In Trikala (a small city four hours from Athens) he met an artist, Labros, who later became his friend and mentor – helping and guiding him in his efforts to grow as an artist. At the time, he used pastels as his medium. He eventually shifted to acrylic, oil, watercolor, and an array of other media. Patrick’s curiosity and interest for art is limitless. During his free time, he reads and studies impressionism, expressionism, Afro Futurism, and renaissance to name a few.
This artist is not like any other. Not only does he love art, but you can find Patrick Mutombo amongst the coaching staff of last year’s NBA champions the Toronto Raptors and assisting at the “Basketball without Borders” exhibitions games.
Born and raised in Congo, Marthe Ngandu has set herself apart by creating her own unique style – painting on ‘Wax’ African motif printed fabric. After having spent several years researching her passion in various fields, she decided to go back to her first love – drawing. The self-taught and multi-media artist draws the people she meets on a daily basis– the beautiful human experiences that people go through every day. Her initial mediums were pencil and charcoal, but last year she transitioned from drawing to acrylic painting. She focuses on painting on African materials such as Ankara or Wax with acrylics and oil.
Born in Kinsahsa, Patrick Madenge has been recognized for his work in the contemporary gallery spaces. After three years of art school and concentrating on drawing, he decided to redirect his passion of art towards painting as an autodidact and after experimented different styles such as cubism and abstract. Today, he concentrates on figurative painting. By playing with colors and shapes, he has revolutionized and modernized classical western portraits of women by focusing on the African woman.
Khen Salumu Kahoya
Khen Salumu is a visual artist who studied at the Kinshasa Academy of Fine Arts and currently lives and works in the city capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. With the help of his welding rod, he cuts out characters and landscapes, thus giving life to these metal sheets which he collects from the streets. Then, he assembles these different elements on a wooden frame covered with trellis, which gives a personal and original plastic value to his pictorial work. Salumu’s philosophy and his artistic approach are motivated by current state of the world., his aim is for Congolese people to adopt a more eco conscious mindset. His works reflect the daily lives of the people of Kinshasa, exploiting themes such as life saving techniques, heavy traffic circulations and the country’s natural resources. By collecting and reusing waste such as cans, wires, trellis, plastic etc. to make his art, his mission is to raise awareness of the preservation of the environment and of the capital, Kinshasa.
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