Marthe Ngandu

Marthe Ngandu a.k.a Magstonesoulart is a self-taught artist originated from the Democratic Republic of Congo.   Married and mother of 4 children she has always loved drawing and art has always been part of her family.

Nevertheless, she studied Finance and Marketing in Congo and later in South Africa. After several years trying to find her feet in a career path mostly dominated by customer care in different field, she found herself at an existential crossroads and decided to go back to Art.

Quintessential to her identity is joy. Joy and happiness in the face of adverse circumstances is a theme permeating the spontaneity and freedom of her bold and saturated brushstrokes.

It is a celebration of African identity and Africanism. The exuberance and joy her work radiates is equally an act of defiance. Through intimate portraits where the eyes hold ever the focal point, she expresses the transcendent meaning of being beyond blackness beyond womanhood and far beyond the cloistered cubicles of societal bias. The fearlessness and vibrance of Ankara and acrylic fusing into strong portraits that provoke the existential questions of our collective connectivity is a hallmark of the work of a truly intriguing artist.

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Bold, size:21x25cm. This is a mix of acrylic paint and collage of Liputa fabrics. These pieces one by one put together make this vibrant piece representing ” A Daring lady”. With a background made of blue, green, red and yellow paint …it is a vibrant piece, and you can feel the intensity of her stare… a Dare to be Bold … A Dare to live…In this piece I celebrate courage, determination and vulnerability. She is the sum of different facets of herself and all of it colorful. The complementary colors of the Liputa and the paint shows that all the experiences of her life are what she is made of. She has flaws, but she has qualities too. All of it, ups and downs, ugly or beautiful darkness or light, she embraced it all and let it build her to the woman she is today.

Liza Kitoko.  A powerful representation of African beauty. Painted on African material/Liputa. I have started with acrylic and finished with some oil paint to make the painting feel more alive. This painting was inspired by my beautiful sister Lizette. A working mother, a wife, a Congolese modern woman.

Melanin Kick. Size: 30.5x66cm. Piece inspired by the beauty of African women. A beautiful head wrap on your head will dress you up almost instantly. To make it modern and different I thought about sunglasses . The Africa Necklace put the African continent on her heart!. I mostly start my painting with the face and especially the eyes as focal points because I think they put life into the painting. For me , the beauty of this piece is in what her glasses hide. She is strong , anchored in her African root yet classy and modern . She knows her place in this world and she is proud to be black , to be a black woman.

Blue Day. Size 35.8 × 46.2cm. Multi medium painting: mix of African material collage and acrylic paint. On a blue and Sad day, she is still strong and carries her head high full of the colors of her feelings.

Liputa Crown. Size:39x49cm. Acrylic paints on Liputa fabric. Self-portrait representing the glamorous wearing of the Liputa. The Liputa fabric is a Congolese colorful material that they wear as clothes. Most Congolese have at least one Liputa in their closet. It represents our tradition, our authenticity. It is an elegant way to dress for any formal event. With pride, she wears her Liputa Crown.

Rooted Love. Size 61x92cm. Multi medium painting(acrylic and collage on african material Liputa) Representing Harmony in the couple ,They complete each other , playing with the complementary of the orange and blue colors. They are bonded by their love and origin. The head wrap of the woman is a collage of Liputa (Congolese fabric) .

Sisters. Size 40x40cm. Acrylic paint on Liputa. The Liputa is a colorful African fabric that is usually worn in Congo as traditional clothing by women and men.  The Liputa (African fabric) has always been in my life. From my grandmother to my mom and the women in my life. We always have a Liputa in our closet to wear. This painting celebrates the elegance and authentic colors of the African material and the women who wear them. In their everyday life they go shopping, meet a friend or go to work … The rural or the modern women we proudly wear our Liputa .

Little Mummy. Size 42x42cm. Acrylic and oil on Liputa. This is one of my first paintings . It’s a painting of my second daughter who I call my little mummy. This painting represents her carrying “ her world “ in her head full of dreams and hope for the future. Her eyes are always holding a secret message. I started with acrylic and put a light layer of oil on it to finish it. The combination of the fabric color and the paint give the painting it unique charm.

Dressing up. Size 30.5x 66cm. Self portrait exploring the contrast between light and shadows mixed with some collage of Liputa fabric. I expose myself and show how vulnerable I am in this new venture. Discovering my identity as an artist . Between bold colors and collage

Meeting me. Siza 35.7×51.5cm. Painting of acrylics on African material. This is one of my first self portraits. Trying to find myself on my artistic journey. Trying to embrace my identity as an artist . Playing with the shadows and light with a background of Liputa fabric.

All images © Marthe Ngandu

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CURATOR | Joelcy Kay