Aimé Mpane, traditions and conscious art

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African Sculptures are not that much shown and it is a pitty! Well, Amanie Magazine is there to change the game, right?

This month, our AKAA selection presents you the inspiring sculptor:
Aimé Mpane.
His artwork has been exhibited at the Paris AKAA – Also Known As Africa – by the gallery NOMAD.

each month, we present one artist
we met at AKAA fair 2018.

Aimé Mpane's mural creations
Aimé Mpane’s mural creations – © Aimé Mpane

Before attending the AKAA fair, Aimé Mpane was already on our target list. We didn’t only want to see his artwork, we definitely wanted to meet him.

He creates contemporary art based on his family legacy.

Aimé Mpane’s journey

Aimé is a multi-dimensional plastic artist and painter from DRC – Democratic Republic of Congo – in Central Africa. He has been involved in art and hand made creations even before his birth! Indeed, his grand-father was a sculptor and his father an object designer. So, as a boy he observed them working with several materials. These processes have deelpy impacted Aimé’s artwork.
As he first started as a painter, Mr Mpane finally involved himself in sculpting, after studing at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels in Brussels.

Where does this change come from?

On one hand, Aimé found painting flat and he realised How much he needed forms and 3D objects. You can obvioulsy see there the shadow of his childhood influencers.
On the other hand, working on canvas with some paints, seemed to be far away from his reality. They have both been created through a transformation process: from flax for canvas, from oil and pigments for paints. Aimé Mpane grew up watching raw materials being directly used to design artwork. Going to sculpting has led him closer to his native artistic learning process and his legacy.
Even though he still defines himself as a painter, this practice isn’t a native one for him, so to say. The artist is having fun describing it as his European art practice.

Kinshasa – Brussels

Slam by Yekima, an artist from Democratic Republic of Congo.

Aimé Mpane works and lives between Brussels and Kinshasa. Besides that, he often attends some art fairs, exhibitions or cultural events all over the world.

His list of hits is actually huge!
Aimé’s artwork has been selected for solo exhibitions at Havana Biennial in 2003, at Skoto Gallery in New York or at the Museum of Katanga in Lubumbashi, DRC. We can’t forget to mention his awards, especially the one from the National Museum of African Art by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.

From Kinshasa to Brussels, Aimé Mpane is definitely an inspiration for Black artists and African ones particularly. His workshop in Kinshasa catches attention. In Africa in general, people have been used to create objects from raw materials with their hands. Therefore, watching sculptors is not something surprising. It raises’s people curiosity. Our Congolese sculptor defines the “Kinois” — inhabitants of Kinshasa — as very curious people.

It is not strange to see artists as they have been used to see many of us learned at the Académie des Beaux Arts of Kinshasa. I’m just happy to see the interest of young people for art and to be seen as a motivation model. Many of them say now, Aimé went to Europe and come back to DRC to practice his art; so I can do it in Kinshasa too!

However, like everwhere else on the African continent, the fortunate people don’t really pay attention to Kinshasa’s artistic scene.

Terre Africaine by Aimé Mpane

Terre Africaine mural by Aimé Mpane
Terre Africaine mural by Aimé Mpane – © Aimé Mpane

Terre Africaine (African land) is the wall art piece that caught our attention during the AKAA fair. The singular beauty of this artwork touched us. The sculptor kindly told us more about this piece.
To create this colourful piece the artist used raw materials: wood, pigment and a traditional knife tool. It is the one he saw his grandfather and father using to design pieces.
As indicated in the title, this artwork represents the African land and the merchandising linked to it.

Of course, the situation in DRC illustrates this. While the country is describes as dangerous or in war situation, companies are enjoying the huge natural resources from the soil. Most of the lithium commonly used for smartphones comes from this country, where miners have been facing terrible working conditions and death.

People only see money. They don’t care about those living here. At the end, the inhabitants, African people just die.

Aimé Mpane

The continent looks like a monopoly game. They come, take out everything they can and that’s it.
The small parts of wood symbolize the soil which is broken and exploited to generate money. Then the flashy pink colour of the background is a metaphor of people’s blood.

Aimé Mpane doesn’t only create beautiful artwork; he designs powerful and meaningful pieces.

At this point, it is interesting to discover better the process of creation.

Aimé Mpane, an art technic creator

He doesn’t have any specific method to bring into life his artwork. Depending on the message to send, the artist uses a particular way of doing. On top of that, Aimé claims to have a strong connection with wood, as it is a living material. It is also one that can have a second life through recycling. It is actually the main part of the piece; all the rest come on top.

Let’s focus on Terre Africaine. The sculptor worked with 3 layers of wood. In this case, it is again a metaphor:
Those layers are playing the roles of the skin with the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis.
So, while Aimé was working with the wood to create this mural, he was actually interpreting the violent exploitation of the African soils.

One piece contains so much of history, creativity and significations. Paying attention to an artist technic opens more doors to enter one’s expression way.

The full interview of Aimé Mpane has been recorded and it will be shared soon. Please stay tuned to listen to it and get a better approach of his artwork.