Kando was born in Kinshasa, capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Originally a self-taught artist, he began by spontaneously depicting everyday street scenes. He quickly developed a style.
He studied at the Académie des Beaux-Arts de Kinshasa, where he was able to explore various visual arts media.
Today, he explores pictorial language through fragmented images, combining drawing, painting, and collage; and the notion of the uniqueness of individual identity in the face of collective identity.
His work is particularly expressive, aiming to create emotional portraits on a painting surface that convey the significance and provide a representation of the construction of individual identities. In his opinion, emotion touches all human communications. He strives to use emotions to transcend cultural boundaries, languages, and skin colours.
In 2009, following a few exhibitions at the Académie des Beaux-Arts de Kinshasa gallery, and at the Centre Culturel Belge Wallonie-Bruxelles à Kinshasa, Kando established himself in Montréal. He completed his studies in Art and Design at UQÀM.
He was invited as an artist in residence for the 2018 Afropolitan Nomad festival in Dakar, where he presented his work. He also exhibited work at the American Amref Health Africa annual gala in 2018. In Québec, his work has been shown at the Université de Sherbrooke, Mtl en Arts, and at Montréal’s City hall. Nominated for an award at the Gala Dynastie in 2017, he is among the big winners of the Art Ici competition, launched by Newad.
His work has been featured on the covers of TicArtToc and Droits et libertés magazines.
“Artistic creation is a way to celebrate my identity. Nourished by experiences past and present, it serves as a witness of my existence. Starting with my childhood in Kinshasa, people have been part of my universe – thus I use them as a vehicle to speak and express myself.
Following my arrival in Québec, I considered myself part of my host society. But to what extent? There is always something that reminds me that I’m not from here. In addition, when I return to the Congo after many years away, I have difficulty identifying myself as part of that society. Today, I question my identity, and claim one that is situated between two cultures.
In my work, I explore the uniqueness of individual identity in the face of collective identity in society.
African art and some western art movements serve as my sources of inspiration. To list only a few, big names, such as English artist, Francis Bacon; Dutch artist, Willem de Kooning; and especially, American artist, Joan Mitchell, have been magnificent influences on me.
When I paint, I am not interested in painting what I see in my head, but rather, what I see in my heart. I strive to paint emotions. In my opinion, emotion touches all human communications, regardless of origins.
After exploring different media – especially painting (oil and acrylic), drawing, photography (digital and analogue), and installations (sculpture), I decided to exploit accumulation techniques created with mark-making and lines (via construction, deconstruction and reconstruction) to create a fragmented image that defines my identity through painting. This approach also enables me to convey the significance and provide a representation of the construction of the identities of the individuals I depict on the painting surface.
I use images, but I have a need to be surprised – for unexpected things to emerge, to be conceived through my colours, brush strokes, and tools. I use intuition and many techniques to obtain unanticipated results. In my compositions, lines and mark-making are accumulated through body language. Portraits are composed or decomposed, and multiplied – as a symbol of mobility. Freedom.
To conceive of a piece or many pieces of art, I observe my surroundings using photography, video and drawing. I am therefore able to build a bank of images to be redefined. I strive to create environments that are full of activity, in order to conceive of dynamic visual effects, symbols of movement and transformation. Expressions and emotions are conveyed by the body and face. I use portraiture to best harness this emotional language and to communicate with viewers.
I want to make use of emotions to transcend cultural boundaries, languages, and skin colours. I want to get to know myself better – to attain a universal language in order to provoke reflection, ask questions, and tell my story.”