Artist Bio The works from the series Mangbetu by Congolese painter Eddy Ilunga Kamuanga (born in 1991 in Kinshasa, DRC) pay homage to the warrior culture of the same name. These people of Sudanese origin live in the eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite defying colonisation they nevertheless suffer from a phenomenon of acculturation caused by the postcolonial will to modernise. The last survivors of the Mangbetu culture are today struggling to save their heritage from extinction.
Throughout his research, the artist met a number of elderly individuals belonging to this ethnic group. As true living memorials of their people, they revealed to him rare objects that are still preserved in their country – the majority of them having enriched European ethnographic collections The artist delivers a trace of the Mangbetu’s existence by taking photographic portraits of these last “elongated heads” which inspire his paintings. The young Kinois’ canvases thus conjure the characteristic symbols of a culture facing extinction. In his paintings, the elongated heads, blacksmith and sculptor tools, architecture and warrior symbols blend with contemporary signs of digital technology and the style repertoire of fashion – a central element of urban Congolese culture. The result is a collection of timeless and elegant images, which provide an account of a human group stigmatised due to their otherness.