Having grown up in a creative environment in Kinshasa, Congolese multidisciplinary artist Sisqo Ndombe Akisieful paints characters that captivate the viewers with their gaze, the element that the artist calls the “heart” of all his paintings. Expressing the realities of the Congolese society through his subjects’ eyes, Sisqo’s works want to invite the viewers to a deep reflection on his native country and the African continent as a whole.
In our interview we spoke with Sisqo about his beginnings in the arts, the joy of painting with your hands, and his hope to raise awareness and bring about change through his works.
By Nina Seidel
Hello Sisqo, thank you for taking your time to answer my questions. For those who don’t know you: who are you and how did you get into art?
Hello, thank you for your beautiful question, I’m honored to introduce myself as Sisqo Ndombe Akisieful, a Congolese painter artist. I was born in Kikwit and I grew up in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. My encounter with art first came through my own experience of drawing. I discovered this passion for drawing at a very young age. Very quickly I was influenced by the urban environment and its expression, in particular the mural painting that I perfected over the years. Then I decided to train in the skills of plastic arts in order to perfect my look and my practice where, after several years of learning, I obtained my diploma from the Academy of Fine Arts of Kinshasa. Touching several fields of creation, I then took the decision to devote myself full time to my passion which is painting.
As for how I got into art, that happened quite naturally … art is innate in me. Already in school I was drawing very well and that impressed the teachers. And as I grew up in a creative environment, where there were a lot of wall painters, I spent my time observing them, in short, I always had the contact drawings, material, forms, etc … and an attraction with a lot of interest for everything that touches the creative arts and creation in general.
Could you please tell me more about your work?
In my works, I present characters that captivate and hold the gaze of the admirer. This gaze is at the heart of my artistic creation and its existential and social questioning. Characters with questioning and interpellating eyes that solicit. These gazes express the realities of the Congolese society. A society undermined by multiple problems and conflicts, with unfortunate consequences, sometimes negative for a population “victim”.
Through the eyes of my characters, I invite to a deep reflection on the situation that African countries and the Congo in particular, are going through.
You mentioned that the gaze plays a very important role in your paintings. Can you please talk more about it?
I don’t really want to go into detail. The problem that my country is going through is the same throughout global Africa. Every day we attend shows, rhythms that do not even make the unanimity of our being, but that force us to follow the steps. We, witnesses of the injustice, the wickedness, the mismanagement and all the calamities that our predators make us undergo.
Tired of seeing all the sufferings and injustices that the people undergo independently of their will.
You said that through the eyes of your characters, you invite the viewer to reflect on what your country and Africa as a whole, is going through. Do you think that, apart from stimulating reflection, art has the power to bring about change?
Nobody can deny that art, over the centuries, has transformed man. I think that the role of the artist is to make the spectator wake up and become aware of new things, because art is a means of knowledge, of approaching the world.
In short, I believe that my struggle will contribute to change and Africa will change one day.
Could you please share some of your creative process with me, from the starting point to a finished piece?
I love working with my fingers instead of brushes. I have established my own style by pushing the limits of painting with a touch as seductive as unpredictable that I paint with my fingers to obtain beautiful shades of the material that then allow me to add the effects of cracks on the faces of my characters. The brush comes in at the end, it helps me when I work on the clothing of my characters and other details. I did not always want my works to be a simple representation but a better vector of emotion. This technique makes my works more beautiful and original. These cracks are a symbolic exaltation of all the sufferings and injustices that the population undergoes independently of their will, the cracks represent the emotion that we feel in front of all that we live daily.
How is life as an emerging artist for you in Congo and Kinshasa and how is the art scene there more generally speaking?
To begin with, this sector seems to be neglected in Congo. I find it difficult to talk about the life of a Congolese artist. The artists do not manage to live from their work and are not supported, because there are not enough channels of promotion to encourage the establishment of a market infrastructure. This pushes artists to look for ways and means to integrate into the international market.
Is there any current or upcoming project that you’d like to talk about?
Yes, there is an upcoming project “Zone rouge”, a project that will move the lines. I don’t want to say more for the moment, I’ll unveil it in the next few days. I’m still working on it and I’m keeping quiet.
Do you have any advice for fellow emerging artists in Congo (or Africa as a whole)?
In my estimation, I would assert that the essential element of achieving triumph is diligent effort. It is incumbent upon every individual to possess the capacity to exert themselves to their utmost potential, but most importantly, they must possess an inventive intellect. For our artists, it is imperative that they refrain from emulating others and steer clear of duplication. Instead, they ought to be capable of presenting something novel and innovative to the market. Additionally, they must possess the ability to effectively communicate their ideas. As a collective, our primary responsibility is to scrutinize and, more importantly, give voice to the world in which we exist by utilizing all available mediums at our disposal.
If these aforementioned requisites can be amalgamated, success is sure to follow, and these individuals will undoubtedly catch the attention of global audiences, thereby gaining worldwide recognition.
Are there any fellow emerging artists you’d like to recommend?
Yes, I would like to recommend Giana De Dier, Dora Prévost, Reggie Khumalo.
And last question: What are your hopes for the future?
My only hope is the change of Africa, the awareness of the black man. It’s time to wake up and stop playing the victim.
Thank you so much, once more, for doing this interview and all the best with everything!
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All Photographs courtesy of
Sisqo Ndombe Akisieful
Written & edited by
Sisqo Ndombe Akisieful and
and Nina Seidel
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