Jean-Bosco Monsengo known as Shula was born in 1959, Nioki (DRC), and lives in Kinshasa (DRC). Since 2001, he has reached international fame and participated in numerous exhibitions, among them his contribution in Congo Stars at Kunsthaus Graz (Austria) is the latest. Shula was included in some major exhibitions of African contemporary art such as Beauté Congo - 1926-2015 - Congo Kitoko exhibition at the Foundation Cartier (Paris) in 2016 and Kin-Babi at Cécile Fakhoury Gallery (Abidjan) in 2014. He is also extensively represented in many fairs, for example, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair and Art Paris Art Fair.
The talent of this self-taught artist was quickly recognized by his peers for the quality of his drawings. Shula began to work as the assistant of Moké (1950-2001), a leading artist of the Kinshasa school of painting when he was only nineteen years old. During this collaboration, Shula developed his unique style and technique based on color combinations which provide the effects that seem to overcome tangibility. This surreal aspect of his paintings highlighted by a « Fauvist » palette of colors, distinguish him from other « popular » painters such as Moké and Chéri Samba (°1956). His work brings a wind of change over the traditional way of representing the world. Not aiming at depicting reality, but rather at transcending it, Shula invites viewers into his fictitious world filled with imaginary scenes. At times formal and pictorial, Shula’s highly constructed narrative scenes deliver new perspectives to universal problems such as global warming, international politics, and technology use. With the endless rise of globalization within the African landscapes, the artist explores the rapid pace at which our environments are evolving.
Shula is particularly concerned with « modern addictions », represented in his work by headphones, cables, USBs, and mobile devices. His « Afro-futuristic » images show universal connectivity that results in addiction to virtual realities and social media constantly fed with energy created by the growing population. Moreover, he addresses our ability to reflect on modernity and tradition by embedding African prints and traditional sculptures in his work. He often comments on their significance and their participation in today’s societies, again addressing Africa’s capacity to look and steer its own future in the real world.
Selected Solo & Group Exhibitions
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.
Afriques, collections missionnaires, Vichy (France), Musée des Arts d'Afrique et d'Asie, 5th May - 31st October 2018.
Art Paris Art Fair, Africa Bomoko - Chris Oorlynck, Paris (France), Petit Palais, 30th March - 2nd April.
Beauté Congo 1926-2015 Congo Kitoko, Paris, Foundation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, 11th July 2015 - 10th January 2016.
1:54, Contemporary African Art Fair, London (UK), Somerset House, 13th - 18th October.
1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, New York (USA), Pionnier Works, 15th - 17th May.
The Kinshasa Times, Tel Aviv (Israel), The African Studies Gallery, July - November 2015.
Kin-Bab, Cecile Fakhoury Gallery, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 29th November 2013 - 18th January 2014.
JapanCongo, Double regard de Carsten Höller sur la collection de Jean Pigozzi, [JapanCongo, Carsten Höller’s Double Look on Jean Pigozzi’s Collection], Grenoble (France), Le Magasin, Centre national d’Art Contemporain, 4th March - 24th April.
Kin-Moto na Anvers, Antwerpen (Belgium), ARAP, 23rd September - 16th October.
Riad Al Maaden, Marrakech (Morocco), Magnin-A / Riad Al Maaden.
Ô Congo, 50 ans d’indépendance en 50 tableaux [O Congo, 50 Years of Independence in 50 Paintings], Turnhaut (Belgium), De Warande.
African Stories, Marrakech (Marocco), Magnin-A / Old Marocco’s Bank.
Emerging Art from Kinshasa, London (UK), Jack Bell Gallery, 7th October - 6th November.
De slaap neemt geen plaats in / Le sommeil n’occupe pas de place [The Sleep doesn’t take place], Brussels (Belgium), KVS, 9th - 28th November. Kristien Geenen’s Project.
Africa Arte Contemporanea, Milan (Italy), JZ Art Gallery.
Le Congo d’hier, d’aujourd’hui et de demain [Congo of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow], Kinshasa (DRC), Centre Wallonie Bruxelles / Hôtel Memling.
Portraits de femmes de la Bible par 32 artistes contemporains [Portraits of Women from the Bible by 32 Contemporary Artists], Paris (France), Nikki Diana Marquardt Gallery, February, Patrick Amsellem’s Project.
Visage d’Afrique [Face of Africa], Brussels (Belgium), Mots et Tableaux Gallery.
Kin-Moto na Bruxelles, Brussels (Belgium), Brussel’s City Hall / Bertier Gallery, 6th May -14 Septembre.