Sculptor Patrick Bongoy was born in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1980. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kinshasa and fled to South Africa in 2013 after he was involved in a politically provocative protest piece. Currently based in Cape Town, his work addresses issues around migration, economic exploitation and environmental degradation.
Bongoy works predominantly with waste materials such as inner tubes from vehicle tyres, industrial packaging, hessian sacking and textiles. He cuts and weaves these together to create complex, layered sculptures and three-dimensional reliefs. His painstaking process draws on traditional basket-making skills while referencing the physical labour that defines day-to-day life in the DRC.
The figures in his works are often trapped in dense, knotted webs of rubber and jute strips, a visual metaphor for the abuses Congolese people have suffered from corrupt regimes and colonisation. For Bongoy, environmental pollution encompasses “the erosion of economic viability for people, sociocultural decay impacting on community and individual behaviour, and natural rural and urban landscape”.
Bongoy’s first solo since joining Southern Guild in 2021, and his fourth in South Africa since relocating here in 2013, Unseen Dimensions of the Known, featured a wide-ranging exhibition featuring sculpture, tapestries, painting and site-specific installations.
He has taken part in multiple group exhibitions, including 1-54 Contemporary Art Fair in London, Contemporary Istanbul, Lisboa Art Fair in Angola and the Stellenbosch Triennale. He has held solo shows at Gallery MOMO, Ebony/Curated and the AVA and has work in the collections of IZIKO South African National Gallery and UNISA Art Gallery, Johannesburg, as well as private and public collections around the world.