Patrick Bongoy DR of the Congo, b. 1980

Patrick Bongoy (b. 1980, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo) works predominantly with waste materials such as used tires and inner tubes, industrial packaging, jute sacking, textiles and ropes. The artist cuts the recycled materials and skillfully uses them to create complex sculptures and reliefs. Either figurative with the production of uncanny human figures resting on the ground, or abstract via the making of weaved, stalked or glued wall-mounted rubber compositions featuring geometric, stratified or organic patterns which often combine circular designs, loops, pending cables and straps, the artist’s meticulous process draws on traditional basket-making skills while referencing the physical labour that defined day-to-day life in the DRC. 

Although resident in South Africa, the artist's work continually refers to his hometown of Kinshasa and to the enormous human costs involved in the struggle for natural resources. The artist’s work also conjures up the theme of existential alienation through homelessness, displacement and migration, and the resulting effects on identity definitions. Bongoy’s reflections by the means of his heavy and predominantly black installations evoke the specific aspects of dehumanisation that occur when communities are plagued by toxic historical narratives, sociopolitical violations, and environmental degradation. 

The human figures in his work are often trapped in dense, knotted webs of rubber and jute strips, a visual metaphor for the abuses Congolese people have suffered from corrupt regimes, colonisation and globalisation. For the artist, environmental pollution encloses “the erosion of economic viability for people, sociocultural decay impacting collective and individual behaviours, natural and urban landscapes”.

With the use of highly durable yet discarded materials, their recycling and transformation into valuable and meaningful artworks, the artist simultaneously injects hope and optimistic notes into his socio-economic discourse, enacting sustainability while highlighting the healthy processes of material and spiritual resilience when faced with adversity.  

Patrick Bongoy studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kinshasa and fled to South Africa in 2013 after being involved in a politically provocative protest piece. His work is held in significant private and public collections around the globe, including IZIKO South African National Gallery and UNISA Art Gallery (Johannesburg). Patrick Bongoy has participated in numerousGroup Exhibitions, including contemporary art fairs such as 1-54 Contemporary (London and Paris), AKAA (Paris), ARCO (Lisbon), Contemporary Istanbul, and the Stellenbosch Triennale.Group Projects also include Intersections by THIS IS NOT A WHITE CUBE (Banco Económico, Angola, 2019-20); Discourses of Decoloniality, curated by Graça Rodrigues and Sónia Ribeiro (Not a Museum, Lisbon, 2020); and(IM)MATERIALITY (Not a Museum, Lisbon, 2022). Furthermore, Bongoy has held Solo Shows at THIS IS NOT A WHITE CUBE art gallery (Lisbon and Angola), Gallery MOMO, Ebony/Curated, and the Association of Visual Arts (AVA) in Cape Town.

  • Patrick Bongoy, PARODY 1, 2021
    Patrick Bongoy
    PARODY 1, 2021
    Found inner rubber tubes
    250 x 300 x 10 cm
Art Fairs