Patrick Tankama

Cape Town, South Africa

Visual artist, writer and curator born in the Democratic Republic of Congo (1976). In my work, I depict a modern Africa, in a futuristic way. My art is influenced by design, architecture and fashion. My work moves away from exoticism and clichéd depictions of Africa.

I want my work to bring a disruption in the representation of Africa. In fact, the manner in which the continent has been depicted, has been cliched for a very long time, which was created by colonialism, his corollary, the exoticism and the auto-exoticism. Those representations tend to portray us as a culture that is stuck in the past and designed for exportation, denying what we have become. I would like my work to embrace our urban conception of space and time in a dynamic cultural time-frame.

My sources of inspiration are fashion, architecture and design. The anatomy of my characters may remind us about manga comics. However, it is the outcome of a long process of stylization.

 Despite me coming from a training background of painting, my mode of thought is like a graphic designer. This is the reason why I choose to create paper cutting artwork and collages. From time to time, I do utilize oil paint and mixed media as well.

Utilizing collages and paper-cuttings help me to reach more freedom in the layout. Paper is so humble, easy to use and comes from everyday life. Such a medium can express the uncertainty and obsolescence of urban culture. Besides, pieces of paper do not mix or blend, which invites me to work by juxtaposition by applying contrast or shade, which is one of the most interesting aspects of the work from the viewer’s perspective.

I also make use that medium in order to create a 3-D effect by up-lifting patterns and creating shadows. However, the main benefit from a creator’s perspective is the fact, that I can change my mind, deconstruct the picture and rebuild it again from scratch.

I use bright colors, mainly primary colors that evoke emotions of joy of baby toys make. Yet, I have started to use brown and dark-ish colors from the black skin tone of my characters.

 My work is part of a body of work entitled “Anatomy” and it aims to represent the dynamics of the human postures, more specifically the female anatomy. I make use of the low angle perspective to convey a sense of monumentality to my figures.

To add more depth to my work, I create a narrative to link it to literature, history and politics.


Biography & Experience

Workshops and Experiences

Cape Town-based writer, visual artist and curator born in Lubumbashi, DRCongo (1976).   Patrick   attended   Preparatory   school   for   engineering   degree   at   the University   of   Lubumbashi   before   moving   to   Kinshasa   in   1998   to   then   study architecture and painting.

 In 2007, Patrick was the guest of Château du Pontd’Oye, owned by the world acclaimed Belgium novel writer Amélie Nothomb, after being   one   of   the   two   winners   of   a   national   literary   contest   in   the   DRC (Yambi/Congo-Wallonie-Bruxelles Festival).

In 2009, Patrick Tankama was invited to South Africa for his first exhibition in the Mother City. Since then, he settled and works in Cape Town.

Major Exhibitions

Group exhibition at ‘Espace à suivre’, alongside with acclaimed painters and cartoonists Barly Baruti, Thembo Kash and Willy Baruti (Kinshasa, 2003)

Solo exhibition at Centre Culturel Français (Kinshasa, 2008)

Solo exhibition at Alliance Française of  Cape Town (2009).

Solo exhibition at the Central Library (2010) Solo exhibition at Alliance Française of  Cape Town (2014).

Group exhibition at Sendinggestig Museum (2 May 2019)

Group exhibition at Cape Town Civic Center (3-22 May)

Group exhibition at Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre (23 May) in the framework of Africa Day. 

Group Exhibitions

‘This is me’, at Zeitz MOCAA in the framework of the  Emerging Artists Capacity Building Programme  (opening on the 2 July 2019)

Group exhibition at Sendinggestig Museum: September 2019


Curational Practice

Among his curatorial practice, we can mention: Presence Congolaise (2015), an exhibition dedicated to Cape Town-based Congolese writers and visual artists such as Maurice Mbikayi, Patrick Bongoy, Jedaja Ikoli, Eric Gbolia (visual artists), Jamala Safari, Christian Bokoli (writers).

Several presentations in the framework of Afrika 55 (2017-2018),

A workshop on the history of Congolese art (American Corner, Cape Town, 2018)

An exhibition on the same topic: Malebo: History of Congolese art from the late 19th century onwards (Cape Town Central Library, 2018)

The exhibition ‘Rise’, in August 2019: 8 artists from Ghana, DR Congo and South Africa


Email address:
Facebook: Patrick Tank, artiste
Intagram: patrick_tankama_artist


Featured Work