First Art Exhibition at the age of 14, debut at the Saatchi Gallery’s ‘Pangaea II’ before his 25th birthday, it is clear that Eddy Kuamanga Ilunga isn’t your average artist.; he is part of a new generation of young Africans living on the continent and making waves all over the globe.
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1991, he trained at the Kinshasa Academy of Arts and founded the dynamic Congolese art collective ‘M’Pongo’, representative of the creative vibrancy to be found in modern Kinshasa.
Kuamanga Ilunga is currently showing his ‘Mangbetu’ collection at the October Gallery in Holborn. A collection based on the urbanisation of the warrior culture whose existence is currently under threat by a desire to modernise.
Kamuanga Ilunga pays equal reference to the DRC’s traditional culture and the modern industry by intertwining vibrant fabrics and digital imagery, computer chips as skin and Congolese patterns painted as European drapery.
His latest collection completed in less than a year is almost a sell-out, he is definitely one to watch.
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Lux Afrique Writer Emeline finds out more about the Artist behind the paintings.
– How did you get into Art?
“I always loved art since I was very small. In 2007, at the age of 16, I became more conscious about practicing and began to paint purposely.”
– What was your process when creating this body of work?
It takes 8/9 months to prepare for a body of work. To think about the subject, research and structure my ideas. During this time, I gather materials, choose models, textiles, and other items as well as create “trial and error” prototypes.
The preparation process for the ‘Mangbetu’ Series, for example, started in early 2014 and by March 2015, I had only completed two of the works.
I’m fortunate to have assistants with me working on the photo shoots with the stand-in models, and the process becomes a team effort.
– Would you explore other mediums than painting? If so, which?
Painting isn’t my only medium – I create videos, films, and photography. I love sculpture, and it’s something I would very much like to do. I would like to make something ‘particular’ – I’m still pondering upon ideas for this.
– What goes through your head when you are painting?
Many things and nothing in particular! Usually, the atmosphere of the day influences me. I have a belief in my work, and I hope that others get the opportunity to experience my work and that it somehow moves them.
– What is next for you?
I’m thinking about creating a new series; the title is not yet known. However, it will involve researching and developing ideas that are based on a park in the Congo where petroleum has been found. This may raise some environmental and conservation issues…
I hope to start the process this year and have an initial body of work to show in 2017.
Exhibition opens until 30th July 2016
Location: October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3AL
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 12.30 – 5.30pm
Image credit: October Gallery