Aimé Mpane is a Congolese artist who splits his time between Brussels, where his studio is based, and Congo, where he grew up and continues to do research for his work. Originally trained in sculpture before moving onto painting, Mpane’s pieces are a mixture of sculpture, painting, and installation that speak to the legacy of colonialism—something that Mpane has experienced firsthand. Because of this, he felt convicted to address these issues through his work. Despite the atrocities of colonialism and globalization, Mpane infuses his work with hope and a sense of endurance, appealing to human solidarity and courage. He does, however, remind viewers that colonialism and racism are not simply things of the past, they are very much alive and present in the experiences of people in Congo and those who are living in the diaspora. It is not just scars from the past, there are still wounds being inflicted. When asked how he manages to remain so positive, despite his experiences of racism and colonialism, Mpane responds that it is important that people are able to understand one another, to see the experience of the other and put oneself in their shoes. If people don’t have dialogue, if they are unable to speak to one another openly, then there will be no advancement.
Mpane has created works that are on display in public spaces and in museums, such as his sculpture in front of the Belgian Embassy in Kinshasa and the monumental sculpture he designed especially for the re-opening of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium. He also creates exhibitions and aims to work with galleries that are not African-art themed. Mpane’s reasoning for this is that he wants his work to be viewed by American and European curators so that his reach and messaging can go beyond the classification of “African art.”
The Clark Collection includes six of these mixed media acrylic and wood pieces and one wood mural, on display in the Clarks’ private residence.
Aimé Mpane is represented by the Haines Gallery in San Francisco.