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Gaël Maski’s photo collages harness the magic of the imagination to transcend Kinshasa’s social reality. An admirer of the strength of the most destitute people, he depicts them in their environment, which he enhances with allegories and symbols.

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Maski was born in 1990 in Kalemie (DRC) and lives in Kinshasa.

A graduate of ABA Kinshasa, Gaël Maski focused on collage and painting on wood. He used to salvage well-worn boards on which he created figurative and symbolic figures with a surrealist and humanistic tone.

He joined Kin Artstudio (Kinshasa), a collective headed by Vitshois Mwilambwe, in late 2016. Upon his return from the Lubumbashi biennale in 2017, he decided to systematically use photography to more effectively capture snapshots of the lives of his subjects and their environment. He focuses on marginalised and voiceless people. He forged a relationship with the stone-breakers in a Kinshasa neighbourhood and offered to convey their message on one of his artworks. He interviewed and photographed them and then printed out the photos on plain paper and cut them up. Then came the “recreation” phase: he used fragments of real life to create new scenes.

The imaginary dimension is clear to see in his most recent works. Maski does not seek to evade real life, instead, his aim is to transform it to make it more bearable, “in Kinshasa, a lot of people, including myself, need to escape into an imaginary world in order to survive.” Hence the importance of using photos as the starting point, i.e., physical reality, which he enriches with symbols and allegories. As collages now comprise the whole of the background of his works, wood no longer has a place and is replaced by canvas.

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