Patrick Bongoy was born in Kinshasa in the DRC where he studied at both The Institute of Fine Arts and The Academy of Fine Arts in Kinshasa, graduating in 2005 and 2009 respectively. Bongoy now lives and works in Cape Town yet his work constantly references the political and social situations of his home country.
“I draw on the history of my roots in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as the irony of contemporary urban degradation masked as development. I try to understand how the deterioration of natural and urban settings mirrors the visible rotting, displayed in the behavior and habits of the population. Deprivation evidently continues to recreate further misery and desperation.
Although my work reflects a kind of beauty, it also describes the destruction of a place and a people where ethical values have been poisoned or fallen away, infecting human morality and dignity. The aftermath of several violent conflicts has created a nightmarish atmosphere where people relive those moments in an extreme state of vulnerability and resignation to this state of affairs.” –Patrick Bongoy
The textured surfaces on which Bongoy works are the product of a painstaking process of cutting and weaving together strips of rubber. This technique, as well as the additional sculpted layers of hessian that he adds on top, reference some of the many laborious tasks undertaken by people in the DRC in order to make ends meet. Although Bongoy works mainly in the abstract realm when he does choose to depict figures they hum with a sense of discord. Their distorted limbs become symbols of the moral corruption that slinks its way through the urban environments of postcolonial DRC. Drawing on his background as a performance artist, Bongoy’s figures writhe and evoking a sense of at times disjointed or uncontrolled movement. His figures look as if their bodies are in mid-performance of a dubious act over which their mind no longer has control. However, rather than being sternly didactic, Bongoy’s works tell sad narratives that focus on how the most vulnerable members of society are targeted by those in power and can be led astray as they desperately seek a better life for themselves.