Masela Nkolo

Masela Nkolo


January 25, 2024 – February 2, 2025

My creative process began with a desire to connect my African heritage with contemporary art. My artwork draws its strength from the cultural expressions of the Songwe, Tshokwe, Ngala, Luba, Kongo, Pende, Yaka and Kuba people of the Congo. As well as the Baule of the Ivory Coast and the Benin styles of Nigeria. These skilled ironworkers, talented embroiderers, and capable woodcarvers, displayed a uniqueness in their artwork that was truly one of a kind.

Syncretism, my genre of expression, is the fusion of separate concepts into a new and unique idea. For me, that’s incorporating classical African art and contemporary art. I use Kongo as my reference, because it’s the land where my parents, and their parents, and I were born and raised. Where my sense of identity was established, and my reverence and appreciation for historical Kongo culture and art nurtured. It’s more than a fad or trend to me. It’s my home.

This series was inspired by my experiences growing up as a teenager during the Congolese civil war. Because of the lack of electricity in my country, the oil lantern has always been a part of my life. Also, due to the war, simple tasks, such as walking to school meant exposing myself to a high risk of danger. Not having much money or access to anything, I used what was available, which was a screwdriver as my weapon of defense.

In this series, oil lanterns and screwdrivers are the primary materials used. Materials that once were a necessity of life and a form of protection, are now deconstructed embodiment of African pride, happiness, prosperity, calmness, and excitement, that were present during pre-colonial Kongo and are still present today.

When I create sculptures and installations, my goal is to manifest these ancestral characteristics so that they can hopefully become visible within our communities and our world. My passionate desire is to create artworks that can be a source of excitement for one and escape for another.

Photo Credit William Twitty and Johnson Lowe gallery


Masela Nkolo

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 Johnson Lowe gallery, Moca, GA; the Mint Museum, NC and Artfields, SC. In 2022 Masela was awarded a juror’s choice at MOCA GA in the biennial. Most recently he received distinguished awards such as the Artfields category award solo Exhibition.


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