Zemba Luzamba was born in Lubumbashi in 1973. After studying art at school, he enrolled for further studies at Evelyn Hone College of applied art and commerce in Lusaka, Zambia. Deciding not to return to the uncertain political environment of the DRC, the twenty-seven-year-old artist headed to South Africa, where he has lived since 2000. Zemba has become a chronicler of his experiences as a migrant African in a country with an ambivalent and often violent relationship with its continent.
Luzamba interrogates and satirises social and political power structures in Africa. A contemporary realist, Luzamba’s paintings hover on the border of satire, at once appearing to mimic the colonial lifestyle of the postcolonial elites while simultaneously bringing it into question. Is this pure observation, aspiration or critique? While he is evidently familiar with his subjects, their lack of specificity introduces a degree of otherness to his images. With characteristic understatement, Zemba is a contemporary realist providing life like accounts of ordinary subjects whilst stopping short at overt commentary. At times, he hovers on the borders of satire, leaving the viewer wondering what to make of his shadows. These appear as innocent formal devices to suggest pictorial depth or provocative illusion to mimic the colonial lifestyles of the postcolonial elites. Similarly, there is the sartorial choices of his subjects who are almost always dressed in formal Western attire. Is this pure observation, aspiration or critique?
Zemba Luzamba has exhibited widely in South Africa as well as in Rome, New York, London, Harare and Lusaka.