Zemba Luzamba

Zemba Luzamba (b.1973, Democratic Republic of the Congo), is a painter who interrogates and satirizes social and political power structures in Africa. A contemporary realist, Luzamba’s paintings hover on the border of satire, at once appearing to mimic the colonial lifestyle of the post-colonial elites while simultaneously bringing it into question. Is this pure observation, aspiration or critique? Although born and raised in the DRC, Luzamba moved to South Africa to pursue his career as an artist and this experience of migration has allowed him an intimate and sympathetic view of migrant communities which has informed many of his works over the past 15 years. Situating his subjects in bold fields of colour which disassociate them from concrete spaces and times allows Luzamba to portray certain situations as universal ideas, giving the viewer the freedom to interpret these scenes within a way that is relevant to their own contexts. This combined with his skilful observation of body language emphasizes the immediacy and proximity occupied by the viewer to his work.

“There is a bit of politics in my work, but I play with that, so it’s not too serious. If you look at my paintings, you’ll see I’ve been playing with elegance and lifestyle, with some reference to politics and social commentary.”