October Gallery: 2 Must See Exhibitions

P O R T A L

8 March – 5 May 2018
In that particular state of attention called the naturalist trance, the scientific observer can begin to take in the totality of the life events occurring around him, and receive insights into its patterns and mechanisms. It sounds mystical, but it isn’t; it is partly science, partly art.’ – John Allen, October Gallery Founder and Inventor of Biosphere 2
red_lady
Pablo Amaringo, Manduro-Huarmi, The Red Lady, 1999. Acrylic on paper, 62 x 45 cm

Portal is an intriguing new exhibition of works by Greg DunnRafael TrellesRithika MerchantPablo AmaringoChewang Dorje Lama and Ralo Mayer. Recent findings in systems neuroscience seem to imply that the human brain itself creates – in a kind of controlled hallucination – the ‘reality’ within which it thinks it exists.  Using the twin prisms of art and science, Portalpresents a gateway through which to examine how trances, visions and dreams manifest in human consciousness, becoming the raw material that both artists and scientists interpret.  Each exhibiting artist offers an invitation to re-open Blake’s ‘doors of perception’ and contemplate the infinite potential offered by the creativity of the human mind.

E D D Y  K A M U A N G A  I L U N G A 

10th May – 16th June 2018

October Gallery, announces this forthcoming exhibition of new works by Kamuanga Ilunga, the artist’s second exhibition with the gallery following his  inaugural presentation in 2016.

B.1991 in Democratic Republic of Congo, Kamuanga Ilunga studied painting at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Kinshasa. While the strict, almost 19th-century style of formal figuration taught at the Académie since its colonial-era founding allowed the artist to develop sophisticated painterly skills, ultimately, he found its program  conceptually stifling, and abandoned his studies there, in 2011. Though there was little in place supporting that decision, he quickly aligned himself with other artists to establish M’Pongo, a group studio where a diverse set of young artists shared ideas and exhibited together to generate their own vibrant scene, which tapped into the high-energy creativity of contemporary Kinshasa.
In his work, Kamuanga Ilunga explores the seismic shifts in the economic,
political and social identity of the DRC that have taken place since
colonialism. Increasingly globalised, yet still devoutly Christian, much of
the country completely rejects its multi-ethnic indigenous heritage. The
artist’s own mother, a modern woman who supported and raised her large
family alone, didn’t want him undertake a research trip to visit people from
her own ethnic grouping, considering them pagan, backwards and even
dangerous! It is this loss of their traditional cultures that his listless figures
seem to mourn, their bright fabrics hanging limply from their bodies, their
hands clutching ritual objects whose functions seem less and less apparent.
Today’s DRC is the world’s largest exporter of coltan, a raw material used in computer chips and mobile phones, and we see this ubiquitous marker of global modernity creeping across their skins. The monumental quality of the works makes the figures both heroic and elegiac. Yet, even as the Congolese fabrics painted as European drapery recount the developing story of the DR Congo of today the inter-dimensional ambiguity, between solidity and flatness, suggests an underlying anguish and emptiness.
Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga was longlisted for the FT/Oppenheimer Funds Emerging Voices Awards 2016, and in 2017 his work was included in the exhibitions:
African-Print Fashion Now! at the Fowler Museum, UCLA; I want! I want! Art and Technology at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK; and in the 249th Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

Both exhibitions are here: October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street Bloomsbury, LONDON WC1N 3AL

Main Image Credit: Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga, Disconnection (Serie Mangbetu), 2017. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 180cm x 196cm..jpg

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