Share to Facebook Pinterest Share to Google

Hilary Balu

Born in Kinshasa in 1992,
Lives and works in Kinshasa.


Born in Kinshasa in 1992,
Lives and works in Kinshasa.

Hilary Balu's desire to be an artist was born as a child. He copied cinema images, trailers, posters, as well as his father's drawings who occupied his free time by reproducing the objects of the house. With the help of his aunts and uncles, he obtained an artistic education from his father. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kinshasa.

As a young graduate, Hilary Balu's academic convictions were overturned during a conversation at a vernissage of the artist Vitshois Mwilambwe Bondo in Kinshasa. He emancipates himself from Western codes and techniques learned at school, and seeks an aesthetic with which he can identify as a Congolese but also as an African.
__________________________________________

Hilary Balu's paintings reveal an African society transformed by globalization and consumerism. The "brutal mutation" that the Democratic Republic of Congo has experienced in its cultural, political, economic and spiritual identity is represented through a symbolism of the object. The artist erects the object in collective memory. Thus the leitmotif of the Nkisi Mangaaka, ancestral divinatory sculpture, returns in his work in contrast to the new symbols of capitalism. Between the tourist bags and the flip-flops, the traditional statuette also recalls the imbalances of the DRC in its international relations.

The experience of black skin is recounted through the technique of scratching on acrylic, a technique the artist has used since he was a student. The idea is to express his deterioration with the passage of time, in reference to the poet Leopold Sedar Senghort who said "Fuma diar kouffa diar takeu bane", or in French: "Where I have passed, the one who passes will necessarily be covered with earth.  

In his latest series, Journey to Mars, Hilary Balu stages the contemporary migration of a population in a metaphorical way. True flight towards another continent as another planet, cosmonauts, allegory of the migrant, leave a land that has become unlivable, prey to war or economic difficulties. Ironically, the luggage of these forced travelers are tourist bags displaying the scenery of world capitals.

In his next series, In the waves of illusions, the artist deepens the theme of displacement by looking this time at the waters. The sea, the ocean, the ports are all promises made to the traveler that could turn out to be illusions: "The Western world is a utopia transmitted to Africa by the screens. The attraction is so strong that it pushes some people to cross the Mediterranean Sea or the Libyan desert to live it rather than change their reality. But this utopia often turns out to be a deadly dystopia. That's what Afrodystopia is: the still dream that ends in a real nightmare. Quoting Joseph Tronda, the artist questions the links between the history of the displacement of the black man and the destructive force that pushes a certain African youth to launch themselves into the deadly waves of the seas and oceans, youth driven by the conviction that the best is elsewhere. Mixing African history and current issues, Hilary Balu elegantly composes paintings full of realism and poetry.

Download: Resumé