Moridja Kitenge Banza:1

March 6 to April 13, 2019

Moridja Kitenge Banza:1


Moridja Kitenge Banza, Christ Pantocrator No1, 2017
Acrylique sur bois, feuille d’or
Acrylic on panel, gold leaf
40 x 30 cm (15,75” x 11,75”)


For his first exhibition at Galerie Hugues Charbonneau, Moridja Kitenge Banza is presenting  a painting from his series “Christ Pantocrator” which explores the complexity of his Congolese cultural identity through deeply rooted colonial symbols that he subjects to shifts in meaning. The artist describes this series in the following text.


A Christ Pantocrator is a Byzantine icon of Christ represented as almighty in his glorious body. This painting series borrows this representation as a starting point to question my relationship to masks from Africa found in Western art museums.

In most African cultures, masks are meant to be used in sacred rites and ceremonies celebrating birth, death or harvest. When dispalced as static objects in museums, they become amputated from their contexts of origin, simultaneously revealing aporias : the aritsts’ identities are unknown and their provenance, undisclosed to the people and places they come from. Silent and detached from contemporary African life, these masks are nonetheless a material testament of the diversity and complexity of these societies. They are essential vehicules of customs and heritage for future generations of africans.

My reflexions are guided by a critical analysis of historical and cultural aspects of my country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as my own history, combining multiple layers of narratives and meanings. Catholicism plays an important role, passed on to my ancesters by Jesuit priests during the evangelization of the Congo, and carried through my ancestry, as well as my own family’s experiences. My current outlook on these persistant symbols is energized by an intersecting creative intent, between memory and reappropriation.

To this end, I draw from various museum collections that possess African masks. I reproduce Pantocrator paintings, over which I paint the masks I have chosen, covering the face of Christ. Through this intervention, I return its glory to the sacred object and reactivate its function: that of being worn.


Moridja Kitenge Banza : 1 (exposition_exhibition), 2019, Galerie Hugues Charbonneau, Montréal, Canada (photo : Jean-Michael Seminaro)




Canadian Congolese aritst Moridja Kitenge Banza was born in Kinshasa in 1980 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He holds degrees from l’Académie des beaux-arts de Kinshasa, from l’École supérieure des beaux-arts de Nantes Métropole and from the Humanities and Social Sciences faculty of l’Université de La Rochelle.  In 2010, he was awarded the first prize of the Biennale of Contemporary African Art, DAK’ART for his video Hymne à nousand his installation work De 1848 à nos jours. His work was part of exhibitions at the Musée Dauphinois (Grenoble, France), at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Rosklide, Danemark), at the Arndt Gallery and Ngbk (Berlin, Allemagne), at the Biennale Internationale de Casablanca (Casablanca, Maroc), at the Fondation Attijariwafa bank (Casablanca, Maroc), at the Fondation Blachère (Apt, France) as well as at the BAnQ, at galerie Joyce Yahouda, at Oboro and at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal (Montréal, Canada).


Artist Statement

As a multidisciplinary artist, I express myself through painting, photography, video, drawing and installation.

My process is situated at the intersection of reality and fiction. Through this lens, I question the history, memory and identity of the places where I live or have lived in relation to the place I occupy in these localities. I intentionally confuse fact and fiction to problematize hegemonic narratives and create spaces where marginalized discourse could flourish. Drawing from past and present situations, I organize, assemble and trace figures, as would a land surveyor, by reappropriating the codes of cultural, political, social and economic representations. In so doing, I build my own tools to better invest the “other’s” territory in order to enrich all the fields of research that inspire my practice.


The gallery would like to extend its gratitude to Anne-Isabelle Pronkina for her contribution to the development of the exhibition’s concept.


Moridja Kitenge Banza, Authentique #1, 2017
Impression archive au jet d’encre sur papier
Archival digital inkjet print on paper
Édition 3/5
86,3 x 61 cm (34” x 24”)