Kura Shomali

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Kura Shomali
Untitled, 2011
Mixed media on paper
65 x 50 cm

Kura Shomali lives and works in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from which his collagiste approach derives. Evoking the chaos and complexity of this teeming metropolis, the second largest city in Africa, Shomali’s works appear fragmentary in form, composed of snatches of sights and sounds, embodying the life of the street.

Kura Shomali
Fleur du Cowboy, 2011
Gouache, pen, watercolour, Posca, charcoal on paper
65 x 50 cm

Shomali has talked about depicting “passersby”, and each of his figures appears suddenly aware of being seen, spinning on a heel to face and pose for the artist, waggling revolvers that sprout flowers, teetering in dandyish heels, beaming astride a motorbike.

Kura Shomali
Untitled, 2011
Gouache, chinese pen, Posca, charcoal, ink on paper
122 x 101 cm

And yet even the figures themselves are, in a sense, collaged, many deriving from images by celebrated African photographers Seydou Keita, Samuel Fosso and Malick Sidibé, suggesting that the poses we see are learned ones, part of an alphabet of swagger.

Kura Shomali
Untitled (Boxeur), 2011-2012
Ballpoint pen, Posca, gouache, chinese ink on paper
105 x 75 cm

Shomali’s images depict types, their faces obscured by collaged clusters or transfigured into symbols (globes, eyes, patterns), to create a collective portrait of a city where public behaviour is a matter of received visual cues, like trying on a new coat. And when his figures let their guard down, as in Untitled (Boxeur), they seem bamboozled, off-guard, blinking in the headlights.

Kura Shomali
Untitled (Malik), 2012
Collage, Posca, gouache, charcoal, pen, ink on paper
117 x 150 cm

Text by Ben Street


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