Born in 1990 in Kalemie in DR Congo, Gaël Maski graduated from the Kinshasa Academy of Fine Arts in 2014. He turned his attention to collage on wood. He used to salvage well-worn boards on which he created figurative and symbolic figures with a surrealist and humanistic tone.He focused particularly on marginalised and voiceless people. Maski gets in touch with families from the poor neighbourhoods of Kinshasa and offered to convey their messages – frustrations, revolts, aspirations or dreams on his artworks. He interviews and photographs them, then prints out the photos on plain paper and cuts them up. Then comes the “recreation” phase: he uses fragments of real life to create new scenes, now on canvas.An admirer of the mental strength of the most destitute people, he depicts them in their environment, which he enhances with allegories and symbols, reintroducing the power of imagination and hope. In this way, he also intends to bear witness without pointing the finger, and show the harsh reality without eliciting compassion.While Gaël Maski’s work draws on personal stories, the artist is also inspired by collective memory, and has tackled this theme in some recent artworks touching on his country’s colonial history. He questions both the trace this heritage has left on the urban landscape, and its mark on society and people’s personal identities.
Fantômas is a series depicting the odd jobs that are disdained in Kinshasa, and which have the peculiarity of requiring fancy dress to be worn. In KLV ("kilolove"), the father dresses up as a clown and puts on an act in bars in exchange for a few cents. Maski depicts him at home with his wife before setting off for work. Gaël Maski talks extensively with his models before photographing them. In this case, he was struck by the love that unites this couple despite being socially discredited, and sought to render it.