Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga is a painter trained at the Kinshasa Academy of Arts. Exposed at October Gallery, his last collection ‘Mangbetu’ brings out the issue of preservation of traditions confronting insatiable modernity. In a broader vision, it questions not only Congo but developing countries.
Globalisation, the relation of Man to electronic devices and cultural heritage. At 25, Kamuanga is able to show remarkable artistic maturity. In strong and evocative paintings, Kamuanga Ilunga offers a retrospective look on a modernity that clings to the skin like electronic circuit (his signature). But also in reference to coltan, the blood mineral used in our computers and mobile phones.
It’s by seeking to know the history of his country that Kamuanga Ilunga has explored the predicament of Mangbetu people. This people bend their head to lengthen their brain case as a sign of distinction, intelligence and beauty. They were known as warriors but also for their highly developed art and music. Whereas now, their existence is being threatened by a desire to modernise.
This particular choice of muse gives a strong depth to Kamuanga’s art. It is a spotlight on African beauty which tends to forget its own diversity and fall into conformism. Colourful ‘pagne’ (loincloth) find its place in every painting reflecting colonization, globalization and African tradition at the same time.