Jean-Marie Odia Monsengwo, known as Moke-Fils (Son of Moke), was born in 1968 in Kinshasa (DRC). His career started in 1986 and like many African contemporary artists, he was taught the craftsmanship by his father. Being the eldest son of renowned Congolese artist Moké (1950-2001), Moke Fils continues the legacy of this leader of Congolese popular painting and is recognized today as one of the most brilliant painters of his generation. Although Moke Fils speaks to a broad range of topics, his paintings evoke the current life in Kinshasa, vibrant and stimulating but also chaotic and colorful. Like his father, he continues to represent everyday life scenes and he describes himself as a “painter reporter” of city life. His style and technique, influenced by billboard illustrations, advertisements, and comic books, are littered with vivid colors.
Moke’s signature draws on a mix of comic strip caricatures and texts coexisting in one hybrid style. With this dialogue between image and writing, he addresses the condition of being a contemporary Congolese popular artist. Moke’s work is largely pictorial and figurative therefore awarding a universal appeal. Unlike an abstract piece, representational work can be understood by anyone, since we all have been unconsciously trained to see the world since we were born.
Moke Fils uses the popular culture and crass view of comic books to reinforce his point. Rather than being a literal window to another world, his paintings as well as the subjects he depicts become the symbol of Africa itself. The artist has appropriated the most direct, instant, and culturally well-known medium for the transference of a complex social statement. Following in the footsteps of his father, Moke Fils clearly sees the use of text in his work as an important means of connecting with a wide range of people, especially with the local audience which not always used to the art of painting.
A critical perspective on Africa’s complex relationship with the West, globalization, and industrialization, is the central point in Moke’s work. Furthermore, he reacts to the lasting effects of war and poverty, international aid, and immigration towards the West. Moke Fils has continued to engage, produce and participate in many exhibitions, among which: Chroniques de l’Afrique Centrale: Héritage et Filiations [Chronicles of Central Africa: Heritage and Filiations] in Nantes (France), Kinshasa in Beyrouth (Lebanon), Congo Paintings: Une Autre vision du monde [Congo Paintings: another vision of the world] in Namur (Belgium), and Congo Stars in Graz (Austria). His works are also part of some prestigious private collections: Professor’s Armin Prinz, Philippe Pellering’s, André Mangin’s, and Bernard Sexe’s.
Selected Solo & Group Exhibitions, Residencies
Congo Stars, Graz (Austria), Kunsthale Graz / Universalmuseum Joanneum, 22th September 2018 - 27th January 2019.
Visionaries. Art by Moke Fils | Bodo Fils | Shula | Landry. Hong Kong, AfricArt Gallery Hong Kong, 24th November 2018 - 31st January 2019
Kinshasa Chroniques [Kinshasa Reviews], Sète (France), Musée International des Arts Modestes - MIAM, 23rd October 2018 - 10th March 2019.
Vivere sulla soglia [Live on the Threshold], artistic residency and exhibition in Comune di Cosenza (Italy), Cosenza Cultura / Università della Calabria, 17th - 31st May.
Congo paintings. Une autre vision du monde. [Congo Paintings. Another Vision of the World.], Namur (Belgium), Musée Africain de Namur, 23rd February - 27th May.
Moké Fils, Peintures populaires de Kinshasa [Moke Fils, Popular paintings from Kinshasa], Gurgy (France), Espace culturel de Gurgy, 18th February - 19th March.
Chroniques d'Afrique centrale : héritage et filiations [Chronicles of Central Africa: heritage and filiations], Nantes (France) / Tremblay (France), Espace Cosmopolis / Centre Régional d’Art Contemporain - CRAC, 9th - 31st December / 8th May - 26 June.
Songeries et réjouissances [Musings and rejoicings], Morlanwelz (Belgium), Centre culturel « Le Sablon », 3rd September - 9th October.
L’Esprit Singulier [The Singular Spirit], Paris (France), Halle Saint Pierre, 30th March - 26th August.
Moké Fils peintre urbain, reporter d’actualité [Moke Flis, Urban Painter, News Reporter] Saint Apollinaire (France), Médi@lude space, 13th October - 21st November. Solo show. L’Expédition [The Expedition] #Opus 6, Châteauvillain (France), Maison Laurentine - Hors les Murs / Le Chameau, 11th July - 16th August.
Totem, Dijon (France), PNS Burgundy-Mali / Cellier of Clairvaux / François Mitterrand Gallery / Regional Council of Burgundy, 18th May - 12th June.
The Kinshasa Times, Tel Aviv (Israel), The African Studies Gallery, July - November 2015.
Connivances, Dijon (France), PNS Burgundy-Mali / François Mitterrand Gallery / Regional Council of Burgundy, 2nd - 12th June.
La Fusion [The Fusion], Montpellier (France), At Down Gallery. Collaboration with Johnny Style.
Murmured Stories Hut, Dijon ( France), Great Orangery of the Arquebuse Garden / Regional Biennale of Singular Art «Men Cabanes», 18th February- 16th March.
La Ville Africaine [The African City], Dijon (France), La Ferronnerie, 15th November - 14th December. Solo exhibition.
Realism of modern Tragico-Comic Life, Lubumbashi (DRC), National Museum of Lubumbashi, 15th -24th June.
Peintres du Congo d’aujourd’hui [Painters of Today’s Congo], Gray (France), Baron-Martin Museum, 23rd February - 21st April.
Mobile Museum of Africa, Tervuren (Belgium), Royal Museum of Central Africa, June.
Moke Père, Moke Fils, Ghent (Belgium), Tse Tse Gallery.
Tentoonstelling of Stadschilders van Kinshasa [Exhibition of City Painters of Kinshasa], Turnhout (Belgium).
Rétrospective Moké [Moke Retrospective], Kinshasa (DRC), French Cultural Center.
Le Congo d’aujourd’hui et de demain [The Congo of Today and Tomorrow], Kinshasa (DRC), Memling Hotel.
Performance « Printing the City of Kinshasa », as a part of the event Urban Scenography Kinshasa, Kinshasa (DRC), EZA Possible Collectif.
The Painting of Africa and the Caribbean, Vienna (Austria), University of Vienna.
Regard sur 15 ans de transition [Look on 15 Years of Transition], Kinshasa (DRC), Memling Hotel.
Kin Moto le retour [Kin Moto Coming Back], Kinshasa (DRC), Centre Wallonie-Bruxelles.
Kin Moto le retour [Kin Moto Coming Back], Brussels (Belgium), City Hall of Brussels.