Kamuanga, Eddy b. 1991 / Influence
about this work
Congolese artist Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga (1991, Kinshasa, DRC), offers a tribute to the namesake warrior culture inspired from his research of the Mangbetu, an ethnic group in the territories of the northeast of the RDC.qui, who resisted colonization and whose culture diminished during post colonial times.

During his research, Kamuanga Ilunga produced a number of paintings that seek to integrate the Mangbetu’s unique elongated heads with contemporary visual codes. The paintings of the young artist evoke Kinshasa emblems of an endangered Culture – the elongated heads, the tools created by its blacksmiths and sculptors, architecture and warriors symbols in the paintings are mixed with clean contemporary signs of digital technology, the aesthetic vocabulary of fashion and Congolese urban culture. The result is a set of timeless and elegant images that evoke a human group stigmatized by their otherness.
In addition, as part of his research, the artist travelled to the area where the survivors still live as Mangbetu and struggle to save their heritage from extinction. There he took a number of photographic portraits of members of this remarkable group, which are displayed in great dignity as a living archive of disappearing history.
Originally from Soudan, the Mangbetu settled in the north east of Congo. They belong to an ancient warrior culture that was hit hard by colonisation, which promoted a long and effective process of cultural erosion, with the intention to exterminate their particular way of life. This included their ritual cannibalism and polygamy, as well as highly developed skills as builders, musicians, potters, and sculptors.
As part of this project, the artist continues to collect historical information from the last Mangbetu survivors – nowadays reduced to a small group of elderly people. Kamuanga Ilunga engages in conversations about the recuperation of artistic objects that remain hidden underground since the time of colonization, for fear of their destruction. Through photographing the ‘living archives’ of the Mangbetu, their people gain recognition in a manner that surpasses the legendary and its multiple misconceptions, humanizing the subjects by allowing them tell their own suppressed history and overcome the fear of extinction.
Gabriela Salgado, Curator, London

Eddy Kamuanga (b. 1991, Congo )

Influence , 2016

Acrylic and oil on canvas
1 Piece: 170 x 150 cm.
1 Piece: 66 15/16 x 59 1/16 in.
October Gallery, London, UK Current Location:
Switzerland - Basel - S PaintingAfrica


Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga
October Gallery, London, UK
06/30/2016 - 07/30/2016


October Gallery, Tradition and Modernity in Eddy Kamuanga’s Mangbetu series
(Catalogue), June 2016

Artwork History
  • artist origin
  • provenance
  • current location
  • exhibitions
  • multiple

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