Mulala Landry was born in 1976, in Kinshasa (DRC). Since his childhood, he excelled in the practice of drawing. He started his career as a graphic designer and collaborated with Zain Telecommunication Group in DRC and Shalina pharmaceutic storage. In 2004, his talent was discovered by one of the leading Congolese popular painters Chéri Chérin. Following his advice, he began his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts of Kinshasa.
Landry is known for his portraits of "La SAPE" members, young Congolese women, and popular artists and musicians. His work is a true expression of the vibrant culture of Kinshasa, stressed by dynamic postures, bright colors, or psychedelic backgrounds. By mixing hyperrealistic rendering of the subjects with a decorative, hippie-poster-inspired environment, he creates an atmosphere of fantasy.
Like other popular painters, Landry employs the animals' heads in his compositions, which are seen as a form of cultural identity. He is particularly attached to the monkeys, historically used is art as allegorical representations of humans. Occasionally, he represents himself in the shape of this intelligent but subversive animal, for example in the work Papa Wemba (2017).
Especially visible in his portraits, Landry’s fascination with beautiful and well dressed "Sapeurs" is directly linked with identification and classification issues. To highlight these concerns, he plays with the combinations of western attire, Congolese traditional prints, and an afro hairstyle. The complex relationship between European and African people is also apparent through the whitened faces of some subjects.
The presence of African prints in many of Landry’s paintings reminds us of the backdrops used since the 1960s by photographers such as Malick Sidibé (1936-2006) and Jean Depara (1928-1997) in their portraits. Those pioneers of African photography, having created the images considered as symbols of unrestricted joy, were the storytellers of a rock’n roll culture which deeply influenced the urban population of Central and West Africa. Attracted by this revolutionary musical universe, Landry draws on aesthetics of posters from the late 1960s and overlaps black and white elements with his colorful compositions.
By creating a dialogue between traditional and popular culture, Landry recasts these elements in a positive light. His unique way of exploring the changes in his country placed him on the top of promising young African artists. During the last few years, Landry participated in many exhibitions in Kinshasa and Brazzaville. Recently, his work was shown in Belgium where his talent attracted many collectors.
Selected Solo & Group Exhibitions
Congo Paintings, Vichy (France), Musée des Arts d’Afrique et d’Asie, 4th May - 31st October 2019.
Visionaries. Art by Moke Fils | Bodo Fils | Shula | Landry. Hong Kong, AfricArt Gallery Hong Kong, 24th November 2018 - 31st January 2019.
Congo Paintings at Jet-Set Terminal, Pop-up exhibition, Charleroi (Belgium), Brussels South Charleroi Airport, 2nd July - 31st December.
Congo paintings. Une autre vision du monde. [Congo Paintings. Another Vision of the World.], Namur (Belgium), Musée Africain de Namur, 23rd February - 27th May.
Kongo Poker, le pari congolais revisité [Kongo Poker. The Congolese bet revisited], Brussels (Belgium), Lumumba Library.
14th Summit of « la Francophonie », Kinshasa (DRC), Symphony of Arts.
Fifty years of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa (DRC), Symphony of Arts.
I have a dream, Kinshasa (DRC), Cultural American Center.