Congolese, b. 1968
Lives and works in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
and Brussels, Belgium
Working primarily with wood and an adze—a traditional African woodworking tool that dates back to the Stone Age—Belgium-based Congolese artist Aimé Mpane creates sculptures, mosaic-like wall hangings, and portraits carved on wood that explores the fundamental connection between place and personal identity. His practice points to the aesthetic and cultural character of contemporary Congo, while demonstrating a deep understanding of its history.
Mpane’s sculptures and installations often address the aftermath of Belgian colonialism and the Mobutu regime in Congo; while his rough-hewn, brightly painted portraits on wood panels of the men, women, and children he meets on the streets of Kinshasa give insight into modern Congolese identity. Carved “masks” from is Le Demoiselle Pende/Masque Bi-face series resemble African masks while referencing the work of Pablo Picasso, whose imagery was influenced by an influence in Primitivism.
After receiving his BFA in Congo, Mpane went on to study at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels in Brussels, Belgium. He has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Mill—Musée Ianchelevici, La Louvière, Belgium (2017); University of Wyoming Art Museum, Laramie (2016); Museum of Katanga, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo (2011); and Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, TX (2007). He has been included in significant group exhibitions including Black Models: From Gericault to Matisse at the Musée de Orsay, Paris, France (2019); Sanctuary, FOR-SITE Foundation, San Francisco, CA (2017); Double Take: African Innovations, Brooklyn Museum, NY (2016); and Shaping Power: Luba Masterworks from the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA (2013). In 2018, Mpane was commissioned to create a sculpture for permanent display at the Africa Museum in Tervuren, Belgium. His work is additionally collected by institutions including the National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C; Brooklyn Museum, NY; Detroit Institute of Art, MI; Microsoft Art Collection, Redmond, WA; Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C; and the Embassy of Belgium, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.