Doudou Mbemba

Congolese artist Doudou Mbemba has found his inspiration from the hustle-and-bustle that epitomizes Kinshasa, a city of close to 16 million residents, slated to be one of the world’s most populous cities in 2050.

With his studio across the street from the Academie des Beaux-Arts de Kinshasa, Kinshasa’s fine arts school and DR Congo’s oldest and most prestigious arts institution, Congolese artist Doudou Mbemba has found his inspiration from the hustle-and-bustle that epitomizes Kinshasa, a city of close to 16 million residents, slated to be one of the world’s most populous cities in 2050.

The street on which the studio is located is busy with schools, shops, bars where beer and got meat is served, lots of cars, lots of different people and characters walking up and down the street. It is on this street-Avenue du 24 Novembre- that Mbemba records movements, a key feature of his work. Whether its humans moving, things moving, human and things moving together, human using things to move, Mbemba’s oil paintings are centered on traveling, migration, belonging, finding a place to call home.

The abstract figures that are central to his paintings reflect the movement from being and grounded and whole in one place to feeling abstract light, insecure, incomplete in a new place. In the wake of international attention on migration and people leaving to seek greener pasture or because they are forced by war and conflict, Mbemba has been using his oil paintings to reflect on this practice that is old as mankind. 

An avid lover of football and twelfth child of his family hence where his nickname of ‘Douze’ (Twelve in French)’, Mbemba made his first collective exhibition in South Africa in 2007; a year later, in 2008, he participated in the ‘off’ of the international Biennale of Dakar. Over the years, Douze has showed his work in Cameroon, Rwanda, France, South Africa.

Highlights

In November 2017, he crossed the Congo River to Brazzaville where he held his solo exhibition. With “Libanda”, Doudou wants to denounce things of façade, appearances, and postures that are the mirror opposite of daily reality in Kinshasa.