“One of the effects of the Congo Civil war meant a lack of electricity. This led to the necessity of oil lanterns. Initially, as a child, I repaired lanterns for the neighborhood as a means of income. As I began developing artistically, I started collecting old lanterns and other objects from the garbage, deconstructing, and reconstructing them into creatures to represent human beings and personal experiences. What started off as a necessity of life became my inspiration and a form of artistic expression for me.
Masela Nkolo is a multidisciplinary artist who resides in Atlanta. He was born in Kinshasa, Congo where he graduated in fine arts with an emphasis in large-scale sculpture from the academy of fine arts. After failing his first year in art college in the course of sculpting allowed him to confront his identity as a Congolese and to reap the benefits of his heritage. Afterwards, Masela quickly joined his friends in an art movement in the streets of Kinshasa. Together they called their movement “Neo - Ngongism.” They started out exhibiting in the streets with the goal of awakening the consciences of the population through the arts. His work has previously been exhibited on display at various galleries such as Moca, GA; the Mint Museum, NC and Artfields, SC.
My recent work involves collecting old oil lanterns, bicycle wheels, cabinet doors, screw drivers, metal baskets and other used random objects. With these materials, I deconstruct and reconstruct them into creatures. These creatures represent the past and contemporary identity of Kongo, my motherland, as seen through my personal experiences and memories. My representations of the creations incite an appreciation of self and also a way of relearning to celebrate ourselves.
By combining different materials, techniques and ideas from the past and present, I am exploring my genre of expression which is syncretism. Syncretism is the combination of separate concepts into a new, unique idea. For me that’s incorporating classical African art and contemporary art.