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Gaël Maski

Gaël Maski
Born in 1990 in Kalemie (DRC). Lives and works in Kinshasa. 

Maski studied at Kinshasa School of Fine Arts and graduated in 2014. He then took time to mull over and research his work in order to find the format that would most closely reflect his aims. Having used canvas until then, with a partiality for depicting psychological states, he firstly switched to a new format, scrap wood, in order to more closely link his work with real life in Kinshasa. He collected boards, for example those used by some families for home schooling, on which he created figurative and symbolic figures with a surrealist tone, mixing collages and painting.

In late 2016, he joined Kin Artstudio (Kinshasa) headed by Vitshois Mwilambwe, who offered him support and advice. Upon his return from the Lubumbashi biennale in 2017, he decided to systematically use photography to more effectively capture snapshots of the lives of his subjects and their environment. He focuses on marginalised and voiceless people. Maski has forged a relationship with the stone-breakers in a Kinshasa neighbourhood and offered to convey their message on one of his artworks. He interviewed and photographed them and then printed out the photos on plain paper and cut them up. The remaking phase then got underway: he used fragments of real-life images to create new scenes.

The imaginary dimension is clear to see in his most recent works. Maski is not looking to avoid reality; instead his intention is to repair it. This is why he uses photographs as his starting point. He enriches this reality with symbols and allegories. "In Kinshasa life, many people, including me, need to escape to an imaginary world to survive."

As collages now comprise the whole of the background of his works, wood no longer has a place and is replaced by canvas.

Thoughtful, open, tenacious and methodical, Maski has another asset, one that is quite rare in young artists: patience. Slow and steady wins the race: it is best to firstly gain an understanding of one's own intentions in order to find oneself artistically. Gaël Maski brilliantly demonstrates this.

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