Born 1948, Kimbembele Ihunga, Democratic Republic of Congo
Lives and works in Kinshasa

In the hands of Bodys Isek Kingelez, the African metropolis becomes an urban utopia. After graduating from secondary school, Kingelez made Kinshasa his home in 1970. Over the next seven years he studied part time, supporting himself through teaching. During these years, Kinshasa had become a sprawling, chaotic, anarchic city that was falling apart. Kingelez, highly aware of this, dedicated himself aesthetically, politically, and poetically to questioning the human condition, and after 1977, he began to experiment with assembling fantastic structures that offered a redemptive vision for the city. Since 1985, Kingelez has dedicated himself entirely to what he calls “Architectural Modelism.” For Kingelez, this project is one of regeneration; he has stated, “Art is superior knowledge, a vehicle for individual renewal in improving the general well-being.”

He has created hundreds of models from found materials in which paper, cardboard, and plastic are used to construct the present, the future, and the hopes of an African renewal. After 1992, he started imagining entire cities. These colossal works are made up of buildings—some playful, some imposing, some utterly fantastic—that are incorporated into a carefully conceived urban grid. Avenues, parks, waterways, stadiums, and monuments are also part of Kingelez’s meticulous vision. Together these elements fulfill all the functions of an ideal metropolis that the artist would like to see built. His first city was called Kimbembele Ihunga, to honour his native village, his dead father and his mother, who still lives there. About these works—Ville Fantôme (1995), Kinshasa: Project for the Third Millennium (1997), the City of the Future (2000), he noted: “I wanted my art to serve the community that is being reborn to create a new world, because the pleasures of our earthly world depend on the people who live in it. I created these cities so there would be lasting peace, justice and universal freedom. They will function like small secular states with their own political structure, and will not need policemen or an army.”

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2003
Bodys Isek Kingelez
Centre culturel Wolu-Culture, La Médiatine
Bruxelles - Belgique

2002
Bodys Isek Kingelez
Munich Villa Stuck, Germany.
Curator : André Magnin, Yilmar Dziewior.

2000-2001
Bodys Isek Kingelez
Kunstverein Hambourg, Germany.
Curator : André Magnin, Yilmar Dziewior.

1996
D'autres Ajouts d'Eté
Bodys Isek Kingelez
MAMCO Contemporary and Modern Art Museum
Geneva, Switzerland.

1995
Bodys Isek Kingelez
Cartier Fondation for Contemporary Art
Paris, France. Curator : André Magnin.

1992
Bodys Isek Kingelez
Haus der Kulturen der Welt.
Berlin, Germany.

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2005
Arts of Africa
Grimaldi Forum
Monaco - France

2005
African Art Now : Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection
Museum of Fine Art Houston
Houston - USA

2004/2005
Arti & Architettura 1900/2000
Genova Palazzo Ducale
Genoa - Italy

2004 (travelling exhibition)
Africa Remix
Art contemporain d’un continent

  • 24 July 2004 – 7 Nov 2004
    Museum Kunst Palast
    Düsseldorf - Germany
  • 10 Feb 2005 – 17 April 2005
    Hayward Gallery
    London – England
  • 15 May 2005 – 20 Aug 2005
    Centre Georges Pompidou
    Paris – France
  • Feb – May 2006
    Mori Art Museum
    Tokyo
2004
Je m’installe aux abattoirs
La collection d’art contemporain d’agnès b.
Les Abattoirs
Toulouse - France

2004
Les Afriques
Tri Postal
Lille – France

2003
The American Effect
Whitney Museum of American Art
New York – USA

2003
Transferts
Palais des Beaux Arts
Brussels - Belgium

2003
Transferts
Centre d’art contemporain de Woluwe-Saint-Lambert
Bruxelles – Belgique

2002 – 2003
Afrikanische Reklamekunst (L’art et la pub en Afrique)
Iwalewa-Haus, Universität Bayreuth
Bayreuth - Germany

2002
Documenta XI
Kassel, Germany.
2002
Sao-Paulo Biennal
Sao-Paulo, Brazil.

2001
Bodys Isek Kingelez
Ludwig Museum.
Cologne, Germany.

2000
Musée International des Arts Modestes.
Sète, France.

2000
Sydney Biennal.
Sydney, Australia.2000
Vision du Futur
Grand Palais.
Paris, France.

2000
Zeitwenden
Kunsterhaus.Vienna, Austria.

1999
Zeitwenden
Kunstmuseum Bonn
Bonn, Germany.

1999
Art-Worlds in Dialogue
Ludwig Museum
Cologne, Germany.

1999
1 Monde Réel
Cartier Fondation for Contemporary Art.
Paris, France.

1999
The 1999 Carnegie International
Carnegie Museum of Art
Pittsburgh, USA.

1998
Unfinished Story
Walker Art Center.
Minneapolis, USA.
Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago. Chicago, USA.

1998
Africa Africa
Tobu Museum of Art.
Tokyo, Japan.

1997
Africus, Johannesburg Biennal.
Johannesburg, South-Africa.

1997
Projects 59 : Architecture as Metaphor
Museum of Modern Art
New York, USA.

1997
Kwangju Biennal.
Unmapping the Earth, "Becoming"
Kwangju, South-Korea.

1996
Wall and Space. Reality and Utopia.
Bodys Isek Kingelez Architectural Visions.
Oksnehallen
Copenhagen, Denmark.

1996
Neue Kunst Aus Africa
Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt
Berlin, Germany.

1995
Big City
Serpentine Gallery
London, Great-Britain.
Curator : André Magnin.

1993
Home and the World Architectural Sculpture by two African Artists
The Museum for African Art
New York, USA.

1992
Out of Africa
Saatchi Gallery,
London, Great Britain.
Curator : André Magnin.

1991-1992
Africa Hoy-Africa Now
Moderno Art Center, Las Palmas Gran Canary Island, Spain.
Groningen Museum, Netherland.
Contemporary Art Center. Mexico City, Mexico.
Curator : André Magnin.

1989
Magiciens de la Terre
Georges Pompidou Center
La Grande Halle de la Villette.
Paris, France.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

2005
African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection
Exhibition catalogue. Published by Merrell.

2004
Africa Remix
Exhibition catalogue. Published by Hatje Cantz.

2003
FILM “Kingelez: Kinshasa, une ville repensée…”
Un film de Dirk Dumon. Production : Piksa. 29’40” mins.

2003
Gagarin, seventh edition
Livre exclusivement sur des textes originaux des artistes. Maquettes d’art post-modes, pg 68. Editions GAGAvzw pour le « Municipal Academy of Fine Arts of Waasmunster »

2003
The American Effect
Global Perspectives on the United States, 1990-2003
P. 45 – 47. Whitney Museum of American Art. New York, USA
Distributed by Harry N. Abrams, Inc, new York.

2003
Transferts
Africalia en collaboration avec le Palais des Beaux-Arts, Bruxelles, Belgique.

2003
Bodys Isek Kingelez
Catalogue d’exposition à la Médiatine, Bruxelles - Belgique. Textes par André Magnin. Edition : Wolu-Culture, Centre culturel de Woluwe-Saint-Lambert.

2002
Documenta 11_Platform 5
Exhibition Catalogue. Editions Hatje Cantz.

2000-2001
Bodys Isek Kingelez
Kunstverein in Hamburg.
Texts in German, French and English by Bodys Isek Kingelez, André Magnin, Okwui Enwezor
Yilmaz Dziewior. Editor : Hatje Cantz.

2000
Kunst-Welten im Dialog Von Gaugin zur Globalen Gegenwart
Global Art Rheinland 2000 Museum Ludwig Cologne.
Edition Dumont. -Kingelez, texts: André Magnin.

1999
CARNEGIE INTERNETIONAL
Pittsburgh Carnegie Museum of art Pennsylvania -Kingelez : Ville Fantôme 1996
Exhibition catalogue.
Novembre 1999-Mars 2000
Kunst Museum Bonn Zeitwenden ausblich
Global Art Rheinland 2000 -Edition : Dumont.
Bodys Isek Kingelez p.166 - p.169. Texts : André Magnin.

1997
Reading the contemporary
African Art from Theory to the Market place
1999 -IVA. Institut of International Visual Art. -Bodys Isek Kingelez.

1996
Unmapping the Earth
97 Kwangu Biennale
Becoming Bodys I. Kingelez p. 414 - p.415, biography p.473.

1996
Art & Design N°50
Art & The City, A dream of Urbanity
"Bodys Isek Kingelez : Kimbeville - City of Tomorrow"
Pages 32-35.

1995
Contemporary Art of Africa
Bodys Isek Kingelez by Ettore Sottsass, p.170-174
Edited by André Magnin with Jacques Soulillou -
Published by Harry N. Abraams.

1995
Bodys Isek Kingelez
Exhibition catalogue
by André Magnin
Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris.

1991/1992
Africahoy Africa Now
Gran Canary Island, Las Palmas Spain.
Groningen, Holland.
Atlantic Center of Modern Art, Mexico
Exhibition catalogue, bilingual texts: Spanish, French.

1989
Magiciens de le terre
Georges Pompidou Center.
Paris, France.