African Artists and Processes

P. WAMAITHA NG’ANG’A and ALEXANDRE KYUNGU MWILAMBWE

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

This exhibition introduces the work of two emerging artists: Kenyan-British photographer P. Wamaitha Ng’ang’a and Congolese artist, Alexandre Kyungu Mwilambwe, and is curated by Atim Annette Oton.

 

Wamaitha Ng’ang’a’s work in photography are personal, investigative conversations using self-portraiture as a form of art therapy and symbolism communication. They explore the interconnections of nature, spirituality and healing. From her Metamorphosis, Seasons, to Eden’Nosono series, she illustrates through images the personal catharsis and reconciliation of the physical and psychological journey as she deals with her health.  Her Dark Matter portraits deal significantly with body image and body positivity. Her scoliosis and Poland Syndrome conditions led to a negative and distorted body image of herself. “I’m on a quest to understand the effect of deformities on body image whilst advocating for body positivity – the acceptance of all bodies regardless of physical ability, size, gender, race, or appearance.”

 

Alexandre Kyungu Mwilambwe’s work is about the juxtaposing of modern urban space and scarification, an African traditional cultural system of body marking. It serves as a cartographic essay dealing with intimate thoughts and deep questions about our lives in these times. His work functions as a “cartographic essay”, in which he tries to build a new global world while merging and juxtaposing the maps of different cities. It is a way for him to question the city and the mapping of the city, to erase the boundaries between people, and give birth to a single territory in the imaginary space of his work. Using history, cartography and memory, Alexandre Mwilambwe explores the relationship between people and existing spaces through the art of Nzoloko, which means scarification in Lingala language and 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. It is African symbolism that distinguishes individuals from one another. The appropriation of Nzoloko in his artwork is used to disguise political boundaries and the body within these spaces.  

 

The intentional pairing of these two African artists by curator Atim Annette Oton as the first exhibition at Calabar Gallery is about exploring the connection of Africans working globally using identity and process to create new work and new visual language and representation while living in the continent and the diaspora, one in Congo and one in London. The exhibition though modest captures the of these two emerging artists who signed with the gallery after showing at Prizm Art Fair in Miami in December 2020. For Alexandre Kyungu Mwilambwe, it is his third exhibition in the New York City area; he was part of a group show at Five Myles Gallery in Brooklyn in 2019, he did a residency at Omi in Ghent and showed at Wavehill. For Wamaitha Ng’ang’a, this is her second showing in New York, she was an artist who participated in Amref Artball in 2020.