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Masela Nkolo

"One of the effects of the Congo Civil war meant 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, deconstructing, and transforming 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 residing in Atlanta. He was born in Kinshasa, Congo, and started out exhibiting on the streets, alongside other artists. Together, they called their movement, “Neo-ngongisme” and they had goals of awakening the consciences of the population through arts. 


Masela graduated in Fine Arts, with an emphasis in large-scale sculpture from The Academy of Fine Arts in Congo. His work has currently been featured in Moca GA, and The Mint Museum, Uptown Charlotte, NC.

Artistic Statement

My current work revolves around my personal experience, notions of good and evil, truth, and the cycles of death and life are my areas of exploration. I draw cultural inspiration from traditional African art like Kongo, Luba, Kuba, Yaka, and  Maasai. By combining different materials and ideas from the past and present, I merge them together to create and portray unseen individuals' worlds that are within this world, which is Trans-syncretism, my genre of expression. 


My work consists of deconstructing oil lanterns, and bike wheels and reconstructing them into small animal-like creatures, masks, aliens, or robots. I use these creatures to represent human beings. My depictions of small animals, masks, aliens, or robots act as metaphors for human behavior. Through this new stage of my research, I wanted to bring a color dimension to my de-structured and monochrome lantern. This new touch of color is a definition that fits perfectly with the new direction of the artist's work.

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