I have known Papytsho Mafolo AKA Pistho for over 25 years. Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mafolo is a visual artist. His favourite fields are painting, sculpture and performance. After the end of his studies at the School of Fine Arts in Kinshasa, he moved to Spain via South Africa.
After a moment of lethargy, over the past 4 years, he has been very active in many events related to contemporary African art in Europe.Last month, I had the opportunity to work with him on a project called The alternative Paradigm.
The alternative Paradigm was Mafolo's first solo exhibition in London, where he explored a new vision of the world by deconstructing the established patterns and certain beliefs of our current capitalist-based society.
Through Mafolo's brilliant and vibrant colour palettes, the exhibition sought to portray and offer a different perspective on the current way of life to face current societal and environmental challenges. In one hour, Mafolo explained each of his 15 paintings to the audience in the room, testifying to the personal commitment and artistic sensitivity of his vision of the world born from his encounters with different cultures. The Alternative Paradigm was curated by myself and presented at SoShiro on behalf of 1-54, the largest African Art Fair and its diaspora.
This exhibition was based on the idea that our planet earth is a complex natural system with multiple interactions.
Capitalism in its current application is the basis of many environmental and human relations problems. Human's pursuit of gain has reached such a level of unconsciousness that it is high time we changed tack.
Humans as well as fauna and flora form a single interconnected and interdependent whole. Environmental scientists claim that all biological organisms and their organic environment are intertwined to form a complex system, which is essential for maintaining living conditions on earth.
This theory states that when this balance is disrupted by messing with one of its elements in the system, the other elements react by trying to compensate and adapt to create a new balance.
While the sciences have made a huge leap forward in terms of technological progress, the overall knowledge of humans still seems incomplete. Despite all the various advances, the latter is slow to regulate his life in harmony with his home, the earth.
In his frantic race of progress through savage capitalism, people continually deconstruct society and move further and further away from the "Ubuntu" which was to govern all our actions to preserve our humanity and our planet.
Mahatma Gandhi in his time had already rightly pointed out this sad reality: "there is enough of everything in the world to satisfy man's needs, but not enough to satisfy his greed"
Mafolo through his art knows that man is capable of the best and the worst. His exhibition was a rallying cry, a call for the return of universal human values for the sustainability of the human race.
What I appreciate about Mafolo is his stubbornness to be and remain an artist. Since we were students, Mafolo already excelled in painting among us and since then he has never had any other job. One day, he told me that art is linked to his lifestyle. He does not see himself under any other cap except that of an artist.
From the beginning, his art was prized by travellers passing through Kinshasa as a souvenir, today his works can be found in private collections but also in major institutions such as the DR Congolese presidency or the World Bank.
Determined as ever, Mafolo remains very optimistic that his art will continue to convey a message of introspection of human nature. He recently, participated in AKAA, a Parisian art fair dedicated to African art and was the guest of France 24, one French state-owned international news television network.