Born 1981 in Kinshasa, D.R.C
Lives and works in Kinshasa, D.R.C
A graduate from the Academy of Fine Arts in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Steve Bandoma is an arts and political activist who speaks truth to power through his hard-hitting works. While his CV includes numerous exhibitions, prestigious awards, and residencies, he remains dedicated to furthering contemporary art in his home country.
As an art student, he co-founded LibrismeSynergie, an avant-garde collective that challenged the conservatism of the Academy and Congolese art world. After graduating in 2004 he moved to South Africa to continue his studies and build his artistic career. Through determination and hard work, his works drew attention and were featured in group and solo exhibitions in South Africa and internationally. Returning to Kinshasa in 2011 he founded Quoi de Neuf, a platform for promoting contemporary art in the DRC.
Bandoma's art is at once a powerful mode of socio-political critique and a platform of conceptual exploration and formal innovation. Thematically his work addresses the intersections of global capitalism, consumer culture, identity politics and the scourge of neo-colonialism as it manifests in Africa. By citing imperial and religious history, classicism and myth, he uses intertextuality to reveal the complex relationships between the past and present.
The artist predominantly works in mixed media on paper. Working as a subversive bricoleur, his sculptural and installation works are similarly assemblages of found and recycled objects.
The human form is central to Bandoma's work. The body is, however, never intact and might be read as a symbol of society, consumerism, power or of the contemporary psyche. He conjures distorted figures or monstrous hybrids from conflations of limbs, organs and facial features that threaten to explode or self-implode. Some works read like puzzles, with archetypal images and religious or consumer icons acting as visual ques. In his satirical paintings, the powerful themselves fall victim to the plagues of violence they've unleashed. The visible brushstrokes, ink dribbles, and paint splatters contribute to a sense of instability and underscore the artist's portent of our self-destructive world order. Other paintings overwhelm in their simplicity and striking combinations of the seemingly disparate: spiritual and materialistic, contemporary and traditional, beauty and horror. Even when they repel us, the tragic figures illicit pathos.
While working from an African context, his work addresses universal themes and speaks to the human condition. The significance of his contemporary artistic expression is recognised through his inclusion in such group exhibitions as Beauty Congo at the Cartier Foundation in Paris (2015), the 1- 54 Contemporary African Art Fairs in London and New York (2014, 2015), and the travelling exhibition Kongo Across the Water (2014-2015). His work featured in Evora Africa in Portugal (2018) and was most recently included in Kinshasa Megapolis in Leipzig and the Lubumbashi Biennale, Kinshasa. Bandoma has had several solo exhibitions in the DRC and South Africa, in Europe, the USA and the United Kingdom. He's received scholarships from Pro Helvetica, Greatmore Studios and Design Indaba and held residences at the Nirox Foundation in Johannesburg, the French Institute in Kinshasa and the International City of the Arts, Paris.