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Aza Mansongi, On air, 2019

Demif Gallery: Portraits of Black Female Artists – Aza Mansongi

Demif Gallery: Portraits of Black Female Artists – Aza Mansongi

Over the last few weeks I’ve been in conversation with Edo Ndeke Co-Founder, Commercial and Project Manager of Demif Gallery – about showcasing their work, discovering the inspiration behind the collections and bringing to the fore, the driving force behind each woman’s artistry.

I had the pleasure of interviewing four phenomenal Women: Rachel Malaika Nkumisongo; Claudie Titty Dimbeng; Aza Mansongi and Angela Franklin-Faye. In the last interview of this series, I’m speaking with the renowned artist Aza Mansongi.

Aza Mansongi

Born and raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo, she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Academie des Beaux arts de Kinshasa, the Fine Art school of Kinshasa. Now based in Douala in Cameroon, she has showcased her work extensively in group and solo exhibitions in the DR Congo, South Africa, France, Switzerland and USA.

Beginning by alternating between painting and sculpture, today Mansongi loves to use her brush and paints to creatively capture a likeness. Completely inspired by her direct social environment, her painting is primarily the reflection of the vision of her world first then that of the society.

Aesthetically, her painting is a mix of abstract character with bright colours and the particularly noticeable presence of strong lines. She usually calls her painting, in her own words: “The dance of lines”.

What does your work communicate?

I seek to communicate many aspects of what inspires me and my passions, my history and those of the Congo, daily life, my environment in the DRC and the events of our society, which affects me directly or indirectly.

Aza Mansongi, L'instant, 2016

Aza Mansongi, L’instant, 2016

What are your influences?

I am so inspired by the history of our Congolese and African culture, having always portrayed elements of our culture in my body of work. The African mask as an identity and cultural element is something that I focus on when conceptualising my compositions. I transform the mask on canvas, and with my paintbrush they undergo transformation; I create contemporary versions of traditional aesthetics on canvas. With that, I hope that the viewer sees the canvas come to life and that they can imagine living in the story of the canvas. My work is also influenced and inspired my environment and my everyday life. I pay a lot of attention to my surroundings and the stories of those around me. One of my latest paintings called ‘’Time’’ looks at how time impacts our daily reality whilst acknowledging the past, understanding the past and looking forward to a bright future.

What has been the impact of Covid-19 on your work?

Covid has definitely made an impact in my work, I have found difficulties in obtaining working materials, like many other artists, which has resulted in a slowdown in a production of work. The rise in price of materials caused by diminishing stock on the market has also had an impact for me. I have also missed the physical exchange and movement, meeting people at exhibitions and at festivals, the instability of the calendar of artistic activities, as well as a drop in activities due to confinement has not been enjoyable, but I hope to see this all changing in the near future!

Aza Mansongi, Emergence, 2016

Aza Mansongi, Emergence, 2016

Are we going to see the impact of Covid-19 in your work?

This pandemic has and will have an influence on my work. It has spared no one. All sectors of activity have been affected and since my work draws its inspiration from everyday life, it is obvious to me that I will speak about it as much as I have personally experienced it through myself and my relatives.

How do you define the role of women in the art world?

Being a woman in the art world is not an easy task. You have to work hard, to make your skills and abilities recognised and enjoyed by the world. The woman is the mother of humanity, with that she plays a huge role in the creation of humanity and I feel that she deserves a solid foothold in the art world. It is almost the least that we deserve! It is important that each of us, as female artists remain strong women, and not be influenced in a negative way by the men, but rather to fight to and impose our presence in the art world.

Aza Mansongi, Le thérapeute, 2018

Aza Mansongi, Le thérapeute, 2018

What are you looking forward to this year?

Hopefully this pandemic comes to a halt so that activities can restart! A post-normal come back will add something to everyone’s life, and more activity will add a touch of value.

***

Demif Gallery is an online art gallery, built with passion, dedicated to art lovers and collectors, founded by Didier Demif, a trained artist, writer and communications specialist. The founder’s mission is to promote cultural diversity and young minority ethnic artists, with a particular focus on Contemporary African art. Located in England, they sell artwork from an exquisite pool of emerging young artists from the UK and around the world. As well as being an online gallery, Demif Gallery also commissions art, organises and runs pop up art exhibitions and takes part in national and international art fairs.

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Header Image: Aza Mansongi, On air, 2019

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