The Congo on Canvas
Congolese artist Ley Mboramwe takes inspiration from his home country and its history, as well as current events. He hopes that his vibrant canvases motivate people to be conscious of their lives.
Ley Mboramwe, who hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo, has a deep connection to the troubles which plague his country. It is a motif which calls out to you from the beautifully abstract forms on his canvases, which can be viewed at Eclectica Contemporary Art Gallery in Burg Street, Cape Town.
Eclectica Contemporary Art Gallery is a purveyor of iconic international and local design, exhibiting the finest in contemporary South African Art. An established and renowned force in the art world, many art collectors and enthusiasts trust Eclectica when it comes to sourcing distinctive works of art. And that is exactly what Mboramwe’s artwork is.
“The images I produce partially relate to what happened in my country with regards to the war – the killings, and the looting of precious minerals from Congo. Where I come from, it is hot. Therefore, through the use of warm colours, you can see that I have not forgotten my homeland. At the same time, I endeavour to make work that is more of a universal commentary, balancing it with the influence of my origin,” Mboramwe explains.
The artist is all too aware of the universal issue of human suffering. While in the process of writing his thesis for his Diploma in Fine Art from the Academie des Beauxarts, both of his parents passed away. “However, and fortunately, we were a middle-class family, and my siblings and I were all well-educated and able to graduate. I received my diploma with distinction, despite the tragedy.”
After completing his diploma, Mboramwe moved to Cape Town in 2006 where he took a stone engraving class under the tutelage of the talented Maude Beckett. A calligraphy course at the Tygerberg Arts Centre completed Mboramwe’s list of formal qualifications. However, though without any form of qualification on the topic, Mboramwe’s work is also strongly influenced by his interest in rock paintings.
“After arriving in Cape Town, my interest in rock art was sparked. There is a place in Table Mountain, a cave where we go at night to pray. When I saw it, I became inspired because of the fact that it has been there for a very long time. My interest perhaps mirrors the same fascination as those who collect antiques,” he explains.
For Mboramwe, these paintings represent a time when man was true and whole. This same feeling of wholeness is what he hopes to achieve through his art. “For someone who sees my work, I would like to inspire them to be conscious of the life they live and be grateful for how God has made them.”
Mboramwe achieves this consciousness through the abstract human forms in his paintings. By playing with how we see the human form, we are forced to question which parts are the ones that make us whole. Mboramwe explains that the figures in his paintings are not necessarily people that he has met before, but rather objective vessels for conveying a deeper message.
“I do not know the subjects I portray in my paintings on a personal level. For instance, one of my paintings titled Red Bullet is a portrait
of the current president of Congo, Joseph Kabila, but I did not want him to be instantly recognisable. He represents the reluctance to give up power, which is why the war in Congo is not over, and why there are still people being killed. The marks on his face represent the force at which he took power and the recurring effect it will have on him.”
Mboramwe uses current events as stimuli, as it creates a sense of emotional drive and connection both personally and conceptually for him.
As for his process, he explains: “If there is a canvas in front of me, I just start working. I usually start with the background and then proceed to sketch. I prefer for the process to happen naturally and intuitively. I do not like working towards a set idea, as that limits me.”
The talented artist then mainly uses the pointillist technique (a process of using small dots in patterns to create an image) and paints with water colours and acrylics as his preferred mediums, avoiding oil paints as he feels they are too toxic. What results from his efforts is a beautiful expression of colour and feeling.
“As God has blessed me, so I need to give back, and I have started to do so since 2008 by teaching art and stone engraving to the South African youth at the Castle of Good Hope. Through this and my creative works, I would like young dreamers to know that although art is hard work, someone has to do it. Therefore, you should not give up, no matter what.”
Viewing the vibrant images of expressive forms, there is no doubt that Mboramwe has been blessed with an incredible amount of talent, which has made the art world take notice.
For more info, visit Eclectica Contemporary Art Gallery’s website ww.eclecticadesignandart.co.za, email email@example.com, or call +27 21 422 0327. Eclectica Contemporary Art Gallery is at 179 Buitengracht Street, Gardens, Cape Town.
Untitled, acrylic on canvas, 100 x 100 cm, 2017.
North is Balancing, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 120 cm, 2017.
Kivu under ground, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 120 cm, 2017.