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Founded in 1979, October Gallery, in central London, exhibits innovative, contemporary art from around the world. For over 38 years, October Gallery has pioneered the development of the Transvangarde - the trans-cultural avant-garde.

ARTISTS

Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga

Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1991, Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga studied painting at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Kinshasa. While the strict, almost 19th-century style of formal figuration that has been taught at the Académie since its colonial-era founding allowed the artist to develop sophisticated painterly skills, ultimately, he found its program conceptually stifling, and abandoned his studies there, in 2011. Though there was little in place supporting that decision, he quickly aligned himself with other artists to establish M’Pongo, a group studio where a diverse set of young artists shared ideas and exhibited together to generate their own vibrant scene, which tapped into the high-energy creativity of contemporary Kinshasa.

In his work, Kamuanga Ilunga explores the seismic shifts in the economic, political and social identity of the DRC that have taken place since colonialism. Increasingly globalised, yet still devoutly Christian, much of the country completely rejects its multi-ethnic indigenous heritage. The artist’s own mother, a modern woman who supported and raised her large family alone, didn’t want him undertake a research trip to visit people from her own ethnic grouping, considering them pagan, backwards and even dangerous! It is this loss of their traditional cultures that his listless figures seem to mourn, their bright fabrics hanging limply from their bodies, their hands clutching ritual objects whose functions seem less and less apparent. Today’s DRC is the world’s largest exporter of coltan, a raw material used in computer chips and mobile phones, and we see this ubiquitous marker of global modernity creeping across their skins. The monumental quality of the works makes the figures both heroic and elegiac. Yet, even as the Congolese fabrics painted as European drapery recount the developing story of the DR Congo of today the inter-dimensional ambiguity, between solidity and flatness, suggests an underlying anguish and emptiness.

For this new project, Kamuanga uses the history of the Kongo Kingdom to reveal the legacy of its leaders and examines the impact this has had on contemporary Congolese society. These new works feature objects such as porcelain used by early Portuguese traders as well as pottery, such as Toby jugs, which later entered the trade routes in the Kongo Kingdom for the trade of slaves. In this body of works, Eddy pays tribute to the slaves and ancestors who resisted this human trafficking by presenting a vision of the socio-political landscape of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kamuanga Ilunga’s work has been exhibited across Africa, notably at Dak’Art; Biennale OFF Senegal in 2014, and made its London debut at the Saatchi Gallery’s Panagaea II in 2015. The enormous excitement around the 24-year-old artist at London’s 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in 2015 and at New York’s Armory Show in 2016 was emphasised by an article in the FT’s How to Spend It, which employed his work ‘Lost’ to represent The Best of New York Armory, 2016. Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga was longlisted for the FT/Oppenheimer Funds Emerging Voices Awards 2016, and in 2017 his work was included in the exhibitions: African-Print Fashion Now! at the Fowler Museum, UCLA; I want! I want! Art and Technology at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK; and in the 249th Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

In association with Gabriela Salgado

Exhibitions

Fragile Responsibility
Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga
The Armory Show 2016
1:54 2015

Fragile 1

Fragile 2

Fragile 3


Fragile 4


Fragile 5

Fragile 6

Fragile 7

Fragile 8


Ko Bungisa Mbala Mibale (Second Loss)
   

Limited Edition Prints

Fragile 1
PRINT edition of 25

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Fragile 2
PRINT edition of 25

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Fragile 5
PRINT edition of 25

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Untitled
PRINT edition of 25


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Archive

False Memories

Reconnaissance II

Duty of Memory


Untitled


Oubliez le passé et vous perdez
les deux yeux

Identity Victim

Lost

Abandonnés


Reconnaissance


Influence

To Deny the Value of Cultural Identity

No Identity, No Evolution


Esika na ngayi (My Place)

Liboke

Tambour II

Untitled


Au cours du temps

To Bungi (Do Not Find It)

Palm

Feeling of Abandonment, 2017. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 188 x 199 cm.
Eddy Ilunga Kamuanga
(Born in 1991 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Education
2009   Graduated from Esfora High School, Kinshasa, (D.R.C.)
Selected solo exhibitions
2016    Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga, October Gallery, London, UK
2015   Bala Bala (Street), Kinshasa, DRC
Selected group exhibitions
2016   African Perspectives; Armory Show, New York, USA
Afrik’Expo, The Nomad, Libreville, Gabon
2015   Miroir – Effacement, Galerie Imane Farès, Paris, France
1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House, London, UK
Entre Nous, Espace Lylas, Kinshasa, DRC
Focus Africa, Summa Contemporary, Madrid, Spain
Pangaea II, New Art from Africa and Latin America, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
2014   YANGO Biennale OFF, Biennale of Kinshasa, Kinshasa, DRC
Congo(s) esthétique en partage, au-delà de la Géographie, Les Ateliers Sahm, Brazzaville, Congo
Dak’Art Biennale; Dak’Art OFF, Dakar,Senegal, Curated by Bill Kouelany
2013   Master Art 1, Kin Art Studio’s space (KAS), Kinshasa, DRC
2012   Le monde des flamboyants, Banque TMB, Kinshasa, DRC
French Institute Gallery, Brazzaville, Congo
Congo(s) esthétique en partage, au-delà de la Géographie, Les Ateliers Sahm, Brazzaville, Congo
2009   Festival international des étoiles, Kinshasa, DRC
Other activities
2014   “Master Art 2” workshop at Kin Art Studio’s space KAS, Kinshasa,(D.R.C.)
2013-14   Artist Residency at M’PONGO’s space, Kinshasa, (D.R.C.)
2013   “Master Art 1” workshop at Kin Art Studio’s space KAS, Kinshasa
(D.R.C.)
2012   Rencontre International D’art Contemporain  at Ateliers Sahm, Brazzaville,
(Congo)
    Workshop with the Art critic Eddy Delvoder, Kinshasa, (D.R.C.)
2011   Workshop “Sneaker’s Art’’, Kinshasa, (D.R.C.)
Collections
Charles Saatchi
TMB Bank
Fondation Gervanne et Matthias Leridon 
   
October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AL Tel: + 44 (0)20 7242 7367