Frederic Kuku, alter ego to Mbela? A little bit of yes, a little bit of no. No matter where one places him, Fred, 24-year old, is an interior design student who has not been able to resist to a family virus: both his father and one of his brothers are also painters. Fred’s paintings are an ode to daily life, what he sees, what he smells, what he touches. Colors, bright colorful strokes, are a mainstay of his paintings where joy, hope and youth are among his favorite themes. If some thinK “darkness” is an appropriate epithet to describe life in Kinshasa and the rest of the country, Kuku has decided to shine light on this stereotyped darkness with paintings rich in colors.
When Fred is not promoting the best of what life has to offer, he is raising questions, questioning some of the anachronism of the Congolese society, the challenges ahead of his country and beyond. To accomplish such questionings, Fred has been using a srtyle that we have labelled “L’oeuvre dans l’oeuvre” [The artwork in the artwork], a term to explain what he has been doing with the frames of some the recent paintings. So the frames aren’t just frames, they are artwork point blank. The frames are a call to engage in social dialogue. In “Sapologie”, he uses sardine cans to criticize the psychology of the so-called “Sapeurs”; in “Naitre” [in English “Born], he uses nails to suggest the pain- literally and figuratively- endured by millions of women to give birth.
Besides participating in numerous exhibits in Kinshasa, Fred’s first international exposure occurred during 2016 edition of the African Art Fair in Paris.