Congolese, b. 1968
Lives and works in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
and Brussels, Belgium
Tracing the aftereffects of Belgian colonialism and the Mobutu regime, Aimé Mpane’s rough-hewn, brightly painted portraits, mosaic-like wall hangings, and sculptures are topographies of the human form, often carved into wooden surfaces using an ancient tool called an adze. Mpane was raised and received his BFA in his native Congo before going on to study in Europe at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels in Brussels, Belgium. He continues to split his time between the two countries.
Mpane’s rough-hewn portraits explore the fundamental connection between place and personal identity. Using plywood glued in layers and finished with an adze—an edging tool that dates to the Stone Age—he produces vivid faces reminiscent of relief depictions on a map. This layering reveals contour lines over forms that allude to African masks, but also reference Cubism—rooted in an interest in Primitivism—by incorporating bright colors and bold patterns.
Exhibitions of the artist’s work have been held at Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, TX (2007); Glazen Huis Amstelpark, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2010); Museum of Katanga Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (2011); Fondation d’art contemporain Francés, Paris, France (2013); Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO (2015); and Brooklyn Museum, NY (2016). He was also included in the exhibition Shaping Power: Luba Masterworks from The Royal Museum For Central Africa at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2013). Mpane’s work has been collected by public and private institutions in Africa, Europe and the United States including The Brooklyn Museum, NY; Fondation Jean-Paul Blachére, Apt, France; and National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. He was the recipient of the Prix de la Fondation Jean-Paul Blachére at the Dak’Art Bienniale, Dakar, Senegal (2006) and was later presented with the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Award (2012).