Galleri Flach has the great honour to inaugurate 2014 with the exhibition ”Mutation” of the artist Kiripi Katembo Seku. It is a series of photographies taken in the artist’s hometown Congo Kinshasa, showing a bustling urban centre with a focus on both everyday details and abstract structures. In the photographies the beholder follows the street life with market stalls, laundry tubs and washing lines from a bird’s eye perspective. Umbrellas, fruit stands, and clothing in strong, clear and contrasting colors are mixed with the streets’ and the buildings’ shifting colors in brown and gray. Kiripi Katembo has been exhibiting extensively in Europe, North America and Africa in recent years and the series “Mutation” has previously been shown in Belgium, France, Gabon and Congo – Brazzaville.
In Kiripi Katembo’s earlier and highly appreciated series “Le Regard”, which was shown at Galleri Flach 2012, one could follow the city life emerge in images taken of the water reflections in street puddles. The images vibrated by heat, movements and colors. The inverted perspective of the mirror images aroused an almost hallucinatory experience of the city. In the series “Mutation” there is a similar approach to the environment and the street life through an indirect narrative perspective. By placing himself a little bit on the side, but not further away so that characteristics in the environment still emerge with strong and clear presence, Katembo succeeds at once to come near and keep a distance to people’s life in the neighbourhoods. The artist explains that it is not possible to pick out the camera and take photographs of the surroundings without people reacting and requiring special permits, which previously also was a demand from government sources. He found a strategy to circumvent this limitation in order to explore the cityscape from a different, almost hidden, angle. Katembo describes his photographs as organic portraits or as urban installations of his hometown and thus points at the possibility of considering man’s urban and social environment as a work of art. There is a very strong poetic and aesthetic sensibility in the images which blurs the distinction not only between the documentary and the fictional aspect of the photography, but also the boundary between photography and painting.
Kiripi Katembo is born in Goma, DRC, and educated at the Academy of Beaux Arts in Congo Kinshasa. He was initially trained in painting but at the age of 27 he began to work with photography, video and film. His films have been shown at film festivals in Berlin, Toronto and Carthage in Tunisia. He also founded the collective Yebela for photographers and video artists in Congo Kinshasa.