Vitshois Mwilambwe Bondo is one of Congo’s exceptional contemporary artists who have worked their way into telling the African story using various techniques. Mwilambwe does not just love art. he lives it, it is his soul, it courses in his veins and it is borne in his creativity.
DRC has for long been depicted by the various media as a volatile place, long even after peace returned to the region, but to Bondo, it’s a different picture, he sees a haven of peace, his home country is where he finds that peace of mind to create and grow his art even as he reflects on its past and future, but not juts of his home country but the whole world.
The 35-year-old was born in Kinshasa but moved to Kalemie – a city in the province of Katanga in the south East of the DRC. However, he would move back to Kinshasa where his birth cord was buried to study art. At Kinshasa, he joined Visual Arts Academy (Institut des Beaux-Arts de Kinshasa, RDC) and later Institute of the Art schools (Academie des Beaux-Arts de kinshasa, RDC) he has had educational stints in France and Netherlands and has a received a record number of residencies to further his career. Mwilambwe is among African visual artists who have had their art displayed in more than half a dozen countries. He has exhibited his art in Switzerland, South Africa, Belgium, France among others.
Up his sleeves, Mwilambwe has many talents; however mixed media is his trade. Using cuttings from magazines and newspapers, he churns out wonderful masterpieces. “My technique of using cuttings to compose figures, bodies, portraits and heads starting from fragments of faces and body parts cut out from reviews in fashion magazines, in a multitude of parts of unknown bodies is a way for me to recreate the human body construct a new society and question the multiplicity of races and the various challenges arising from this multiplicity.” He speaks of his objective “The body is mutilated and chaotic, confronting us with the chaotic situation reflected in current political and socio-economic trends in Africa and worldwide.” Of his art, Mwilambwe argues that it is “neither limiting nor restrictive,” He believes in an art that talks about Africa and the world at large. “My approach is meant to present and examine the problems of Africa in particular and the world in general,” he says.
“Through art I seek to represent the violence that has rocked the African continent and the rest of the world and the law by which the strong dominates the weak through guns, trade and exploitation. My work is also a reflection on the positive and negative effects of a modern society dominated by multinationals and by powerful people” Mwilambwe cites the case of DRC, Rwanda, Angola, Israel-Gaza, Iraq, Palestine, Iran, Libya among other countries that have witnessed violence to make his point. It is undisputed that artists have used their pieces to show their rebellion against various forms of oppression. However, little is done to evoke the public response to the atrocities that bedevil societies and bring humongous suffering to people and communities. Is art enough in demonstrating against social vices?
Mwilambwe runs his own establishment KinArt Studios based in Kinshasa, and uses the studios to nurture many young artists.