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Congolese artists bring Afrofuturism to Luxembourg


Congolese artists bring Afrofuturism to Luxembourg

Gallery

Four artists show how exquisite modern art from Africa is in the Zidoun-Bossuyt gallery in the city of Luxembourg

Four artists show how exquisite modern art from Africa is in the Zidoun-Bossuyt gallery in the city of Luxembourg

"Queen Nanny", a work by Vitshois Mwilambwe Bondo from 2022.
“Queen Nanny”, a work by Vitshois Mwilambwe Bondo from 2022.

Photo credit: Gabrielle Antar

In a small gallery in the depths of Luxembourg city’s old quarters lies the Zidoun-Bossuyt gallery, which primarily exhibits artists of African descent, in our otherwise predominantly white art scene. If you go there now, you’ll find out out about Afrofuturism.

In Dialogue, four artists combine science fiction, Afrocentrism, fantasy, technology, and non-Western mythologies as an intellectual and artistic strategy to reimagine and repurpose the fraught past, present, and future of the transnational black experience.

Combining fragmented pieces of the traumatic black experience, they convert historical oppression into new images, reclaiming their voice. With his visual poetry, New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat – who died in 1988 at the age of 27 – was a pioneer of this engaged artistic movement.


Assiê Fian', or burning ground, by Frenchman Alexis Peskine, the only of the four artists who is not originally from Congo

Assiê Fian’, or burning ground, by Frenchman Alexis Peskine, the only of the four artists who is not originally from Congo

Gabrielle Antar

“I’ve never been to Africa. I’m an artist who has been influenced by his New York environment. But I have a cultural memory. I don’t have to look for it; it exists. It’s over there, in Africa. That doesn’t mean that I have to go live there. Our cultural memory follows us everywhere,” Basquiat once said.

The four artists are an indication of a hope struggle can bring about beauty and shape a vision for a better future. Together, the exhibition shows the strength and deserved prominence of these African contemporary creators.

“As much as it is a dialogue between the respective works of the four artists represented here, the exhibition offers its visitors a striking, intimate and collective dialogue with the black, sovereign, colonial and global condition,” Jean-Sylvain Tshilumba Mukendi, a specialist in African art, was quoted as saying in a press release about the exhibition.

The vibrant colours and intricate textures of the paintings of Eddy Kamuanga – who also curated the exhibition – are a powerful contrast to the melancholic gaze of his figures, their skins scarred with motifs of electrical circuits. 

The cyborg style of his canvases is an Afrofuturistic symbol for the exploitation of the people of Congo – the source of many of the essential minerals that go into many modern electronics – and honours resistance against oppression.

Vitshois Mwilambwe Bondo uses large-format canvases, an ode to the renaissance style, merging painting and collage to represent fractured classical African characters with dignity and grandeur. Like Kamuanga, he uses the classic medium of his paintings as a sophisticated critique of colonial representations and to elevate the significance of African history.


Dernière célébration, 2022, by Gosette Lubondo, who features in all her own photos

Dernière célébration, 2022, by Gosette Lubondo, who features in all her own photos

Gabrielle Antar

Gosette Lubondo features in her own photographic settings, situated in abandoned spaces in a rich colonial past. Wearing the same white dress each time, she is a ghostly and dignified presence in locations that are both charged with history and twisted in time.

Alexis Peskine, a Frenchman, is the only artist in the exhibition that is not originally from Kinshasa, yet his incredible work makes him a deserved guest of honour. He constructs his soul-piercing portraits of people from the African diaspora through hammering nails and gold into wooden panels. The result is reminiscent of traditional Congolese sculptures, representing power figures called Nkisi, that are imbued with the energy of ancestors.

“The conversation that takes place through these crossed gazes could not be more opportune,” curator Mukendi said. “[…] Demonstrating a mastery of their art, the works that make up this exhibition offer piercing, poetic, and committed levels of reading. The figurative rigour of the paintings, plates, and prints on display is brought to life by the questions they raise, the statements they imply, and the heritage they appropriate.”


A fragment from Pose, a 2022 work from Eddy Kamuanga.

A fragment from Pose, a 2022 work from Eddy Kamuanga.

Gabrielle Antar

Dialogue provides an opportunity to reflect on the reality of our postcolonial world order that is still very present as well as an opportunity to learn about exquisite African contemporary art. It is an occasion to reflect and challenge our white-dominated creative mainstream. 

And for all those in a privileged financial situation, it is a chance to invest in a growing art scene for which it is only a matter of time before it will receive the same recognition as the now legendary artist Basquiat.

The Zidoun-Bossuyt gallery is located at 6, rue Saint-Ulric, L-2651 Luxembourg. It is open from Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 to 18:00 hrs and on Saturday from 11:00 to 17:00 hrs.


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