Across Africa, Finding Common Ground in Their Art

António Ole and Aimé Mpane came together to converse through artwork in a new insallation at the National Museum of African Art

Hailing from the Democratic Republic of Congo, António Ole and Aimé Mpane have created multimedia installations on view at the National Museum of African Art through August 2. (Stephen Voss)

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How is your work shaped by life in Africa?

Mpane: I was asked by a University of Maryland student, ‘What kind of piece are you going to do tomorrow?’ I said, ‘Even before thinking about tomorrow, let’s live the moment.’ I believe that to think like that comes from living in poverty or exposed to poverty. Those conditions enable me to live with a lot of intensity and not think about tomorrow. That’s what you see in the exhibition. That’s what I do with my art.

One of the stereotypes about Africa is that there is only bad news. How does your art work against that stereotype?

Ole: For me, this is an important issue, because if something positive happens, the press never pays attention.

Mpane: It’s true that we only mention the negative aspect of this country and that’s a reality. But every civilization has gone through difficult periods. I try to be positive and make something with what I have. Even in a place where there is nothing, we will still produce art. It makes us stronger.


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