For the artist’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery, Mabunda draws on the collective memory of his country, Mozambique, which has only recently emerged from a long and terrible civil war. He works with arms recovered in 1992 at the end of the sixteen-year conflict that divided the region.
In his sculpture, he gives anthropomorphic forms to AK47s, rocket launchers, pistols and other objects of destruction. While the masks could be said to draw on a local history of traditional African art, Mabunda’s work takes on a striking Modernist edge akin to imagery by Braque and Picasso. The deactivated weapons of war carry strong political connotations, yet the beautiful objects he creates also convey a positive reflection on the transformative power of art and the resilience and creativity of African civilian societies.
Mabunda is most well known for his thrones. According to the artist, the thrones function as attributes of power, tribal symbols and traditional pieces of ethnic African art. They are without a doubt an ironic way of commenting on his childhood experience of violence and absurdity and the civil war in Mozambique that isolated his country for a long period.
Mabunda was born in 1975, in Maputo, Mozambique. A mask has recently been acquired by the Minneapolis Institute of Art, USA. Earlier this year, a group of sculptures were exhibited at the Gangwon International Biennale, South Korea. His work is currently included in a group exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum, New Mexico. Previous group exhibitions include ‘All the World’s Futures’ at 2015 Venice Biennale, and ‘Making Africa’ at the Vitra Museum, Germany, among others.