Mixed Media (Hessian, African Fabric, Twine and Acrylic), 2015
160cm x 150cm
Patrick Bongoy was born in Kinshasa in the DRC where he studied at both The Institute of Fine Arts and The Academy of Fine Arts in Kinshasa, graduating in 2005 and 2009 respectively. Bongoy now lives and works in Cape Town yet his work constantly references the political and social situations of his home country.
‘I wonder about the human survival mechanism in search of an identity in a land ravaged by social and industrial problems. My work explores alternative forms of life and urban realities. I create reconstituted figures that evoke the interior and exterior appearance, which regards culture as a site of re imagination and possibilities’
The textured surfaces on which Bongoy works are the product of a painstaking process of cutting and weaving together strips of hessian. This technique, as well as the additional sculpted layers of fabric that he adds on top, reference some of the many laborious tasks under taken by woman in the DRC in order to make ends meet. Yet the painted figures on top hum with a sense of discord, rather than hard labour. These figures with their distorted limbs become symbols of the moral corruption that slinks it way through the urban environments of postcolonial DRC. Drawing on his background as a performance artist, Bongoy’s figures writhe over his textured canvases evoking a sense of at times disjointed or uncontrolled movement. His figures look as if their bodies are in mid-performance of a dubious act over which their mind no longer has control. However, rather than being sternly didactic, Bongoy’s works tell sad narratives that focus on how the most vulnerable members of society are targeted by those in power and can be led astray as they desperately seek a better life for themselves.