In his first UK solo exhibition, Congolese artist, Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga, casts a quizzical gaze upon the dynamic and often fraught cultures that make up his homeland. Kamuanga Ilunga explores the relationship of the Mangbetu people, a group recognisable by their cloth-bound heads, to the rise of modernisation. Visually, the paintings reference the Democratic Republic of Congo’s rich reserves of coltan – a metallic ore used in computer chips and mobile phones– which have contributed to much of the country’s ongoing conflict.
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1991, Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga, trained at the Kinshasa Academy of Arts and has founded the dynamic Congolese art collective ‘M’Pongo’, representative of the creative vibrancy to be found in modern Kinshasa.
Kamuanga Ilunga pays equal reference to both this modern industry and the traditional culture of the Mangbetu, bringing their vibrant fabrics, symbolic objects and daily rituals into confrontation with the digital imagery of the present day. His paintings possess a monumental quality that is both heroic and elegiac, with a striking and sophisticated interplay of intensity and emptiness, two and three dimensions, and Congolese pattern painted as European drapery.
Kamuanga Ilunga’s work has been exhibited across Africa, notably at Dak’Art; Biennale OFF Senegal in 2014, and made its London debut at the Saatchi Gallery’s Panagaea II in 2015.
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