Alexandre Kyungu Mwilambwe (born in 1992, Kinshasa D.R.Congo) lives and works in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. He studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kinshasa. He is co-founder of the group Vision Total (vi.to) and works in collaboration with Kin Art Studio (KAS). Alexandre Kyungu is an artist whose work explores the imaginary between mapping and scarification of the body. He combines painting, drawing, sculpture, and installation in his practice as an artist. However, his work explores all ideas of migration and identity, borders and space, signs, and symbols. His art practice focuses on issues related to urban space, exploring parallels between the urban mapping and body scarification. The medium of choice is the “door”, which he attributes to being synonymous with openness, encounter, and discovery in an increasingly universal society. His work functions as a “cartographic essay” in which he attempts to construct a new and global world while merging and juxtaposing maps of different cities and the scarification of the body. It is a way for him to question identity, the city, and its cartography, to erase borders between peoples, and to give birth to a unique territory in the imaginary space of his work. The shadow of the city: a series of works that evokes and questions the areas and spaces of conflict in our system and in the living space we share with each other. The series is composed of a map of different countries, cities, and regions in conflict or in danger and a silhouette inverted and posed above a map of cut wood (plywood). The body is scarified with the traditional African symbol nzoloko (scarification) and painted with small geolocation symbols in several colors on the body.
Kyungu works within the fundamentals of history and memory, incorporating African culture as a central theme, appearing as a catalyst between cartography and identity. Moreover, the artist explores the relationship between people and existing spaces through the art of Nzoloko.The word Nzoloko refers to the act of scarification, an ancestral practice where a knife is used to incise the body, leaving scars. The marks left on the skin serve to identify individuals’ ethnicity. The appropriation of Nzoloko in his artworks disguises political boundaries and the body within these spaces.
Nzoloko, which means scarification in Lingala, is one of the elements in my arts. This allows me to redefine and question the relationship between people and spaces. Nzoloko was an African symbolism which distinguished individuals from one another. Ancestral beliefs of borders were based on spaces as well as this symbolism. Also, I refer to the approach of the historical African communities and how they considered borders. The relationship of scarification alongside cartography in my artistic approach intervenes to reveal and question. It is to question the accessibility and the liberation of a border that previously existed in African cultural society.
Alexandre Kyungu has participated in several group exhibitions and artist residencies in his country and abroad, to name but a few: In 2020, he recently presented his work in a group show ”Art Off-Screen” organized by Eileen Jeng Lynch, curator of visual arts at Wavehill in New York. In 2020, he participated in a group show ”Africa Art Auction” organized by Atim Annette Oton (Calabar Gallery) in New York. In March 2020 his work was included in a group show ” Doors, Eyes and Marks tribal” at AKKA Project Gallery in Dubai. In 2020, he participated in a group show “trajectory” organized by Charlotte Kotik and William Corwin (Five Myles gallery) in Brooklyn, and in the same year he presented his work in the international Biennale of Congo “transition” in Kinshasa, organized by KinArtStudio. In 2019, his work was included in the art fair AKAA Paris by Gallery Angalia. Alexandre Kyungu has participated in numerous residencies: in 2019 at Art OMI in New York and at Bag Factory studio artist in Johannesburg organized by Pro Helvetia. In 2018 Artist in Residence in Basel Atelier Mondial (Switzerland) organized by Pro Helvetia and at the Bloc des Artistes in Cosenza in Italy.