Ley Mboramwe – using colour and form as a tool for memory and future generations
Eclectica Contemporary

The bold and energetic colours of Ley Mboramwe’s canvases have become characteristic of the artist’s work, expressing a dynamism and vibrancy that pulsates off the picture plane. Mboramwe’s paintings incite movement, a shifting, jittering and flowing drive of colour and shapes that call towards celebration, urgency and recognition of the figures and themes he presents.

Ley Mboramwe No More Power 2019 acrylic on canvas 110 x 110 cm

Born in Kinshasa, Ley Mboramwe grew up there and went on to study at the Academie des Beaux Arts, known for its rich legacy of artists and cultural workers. Since moving to Cape Town, his work has evolved and he has focused on painting. Having previously trained in stone carving, calligraphy and performance art – his current work is imbued with these varied art practices and the traditions he immerses himself in.

Mboramwe’s vigorous burst of lines and colours on canvas activate a kind of energy within the room that calls for attention. As he has both celebrated and grappled with his memories and experiences of the Congo, and the journeys he has taken since, his paintings become a site of processing and reflection on his childhood in the country and the landscape he has had to leave behind. Mboramwe creates a conversation about the journeys he has embarked on, expressed through his work and the dynamics illustrated through the play of abstraction in figurative images. His participation in group exhibitions, art fairs and solo exhibitions over the past four years has traced his creative trajectory from primary colours and monotones, to vast spectrums of colours and vibrancy. Viewing his art encompasses an experience of witnessing the passion of the artist, seeing how the drive to create is so strong that his own excitement takes over his mark making and, as such, the experience of painting becomes mirrored in the viewing too.

Ley Mboramwe Atandele 2019 Acrylic on canvas 110 x 110 cm

Tied into the loose mark making across his pieces is an engaged and subliminal messaging that calls into question the understandings we have about the countries and their languages that neighbor us on this continent. By pointing to politically engaged clues and linguistic signifiers his titles like No More Power and Kingakati 957, puzzle pieces are presented to the viewer that hint to the majestic estates occupied by former Congolese heads of state and the power battles that have occurred in the country’s history.

Throughout the lockdown in South Africa, Mboramwe has continued working and finding ways to reflect through his painting. He uses his work to reflect on and remain aware of current social and political circumstances, while not forgetting the socio-political influences of the past. He says, “On the positive aspect, working in isolation has helped in that I have had enough time to think broadly on how to best be creative. It has created a large vacuum of ideas and thoughts on how to best make use of my canvases”.

Finding ways to interact and stay active as an artist has pushed him to reflect more on portraiture and ways to capture moods, expressions and forefront the emotions people are currently going through. “I am working on pieces to do with day to day life especially in the times of this current lockdown”, he explains. Using what happens around him as stimuli, Mboramwe creates a sense of emotional drive and connection both personally and conceptually through his paintings. He demonstrates an eagerness to share and command his own narrative through his work.

Present in the forms depicted and in his titling, Mboramwe locates his paintings in a conversation around nationhood, belonging and experience. The vibrancy of his colour palette and the bold movement expression on his canvases offer a tool for engagement through abstraction and emotion. His understanding of the role of artists in society is “to solely create awareness to the public through the use of different media”. Specifically, he explains that “this is important, as it serves as a permanent tool for future generations to learn and make use of the message depicted”.

Ley Mboramwe Ya Kokamwa 2019 acrylic on canvas 120 x 120 cm


Ley Mboramwe Kingakati 957 2019 acrylic on canvas 120 x 120 cm


Ley Mboramwe Voice of Congolese 2019 acrylic on canvas 120 x 120 cm