Breaking the Mould – new show at 198 Gallery

Breaking the Mould: new signatures from DRC is the work of 12 emerging artists from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and marks the reopening of this major Brixton gallery following extensive renovation. Most of the artists are from the Academy of Fine Arts in Kinshasa, and this is their first show in the UK.

The work is on show in three rooms, each with a different theme reflecting issues at the heart of Africa.

There is a range of techniques, media and subjects on display, but each work in some way reflects issues and aesthetics from the heart of Africa.

The first room – Revisiting History and Material Production – opens with six striking masks. Using contemporary materials, Portraits Urbains represent a modern take on traditional artefacts. Ishango Decotage Transcendant 1.2 is a mixed media composition based around images of a Congolese tool dating from 20,000 BC. It has a modernist, machine-age feel in which domino tiles create a coincidental link with a traditional Brixton pastime. The Nefercongo series of photographs includes a haunting image of the artist amongst ancient structures.

photo of boy
photo by Isha Mcculloch

The second room – Urban Experiences – focuses on urban life in DRC and comprises abstract and representational pieces. What particularly stands out is File d’Attente Part 2 – a powerful series of images of young men. Rusty razor blades representing their skin, and shorts from foreign football clubs, create stark portraits of struggling and troubled youth dreaming of escape from the shadow of colonial oppression. The Arduous Burden of Having Nothing to documents the informal economy in which such young men have to survive.

The third room – Personal Narratives – is largely devoted to photography. Perpetual Disconnect is a series about family which combines beauty, mystery, sadness and loss in compelling visual forms. 

This is a fascinating and deeply moving show. Using traditional and contemporary art forms, these talented young artists give us their perspectives and insights into Africa’s second largest country.

The artists are: Arlette Bashizi, Beau Disundi, Ghislain Ditshekedi, Godelive Kasangati, Anastasie Langu, Jamil Lusala, Catheris Mondombo, Arsène Mpiana, Stone Mutshikene, Chris Shongo, Ange Swana and Joycenath Tshamala.

Entry is free and the show runs until 28 November in 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning, 198 Railton Road, SE24 0JT. For further information go to www.198.org.uk or call 020 7978 8309

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