Using gestural brushwork, bold colour, and the contours observed in the palm of his own hand, the lush paintings of Montreal-based artist Moridja Kitenge Banza reveal the impacts of resource extraction in his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in his current home in Canada. His large format abstract paintings prompt us to consider the treatment of workers who labour in mines in the Congo, unearthing diamonds, gold, cobalt, and other materials that are swiftly exported for consumption in markets around the world. Banza’s imagined topographies suggest river systems and agricultural zones tainted by the waste of the mining industry, as well as the mass burial sites that can be detected on Google Earth and other surveillance platforms.
Moridja Kitenge Banza: Topographies is presented at the McMichael as a contemporary response to Cobalt: A Mining Town and the Canadian Imagination. While earlier generations of Canadian artists have depicted the mining industry as picturesque and even sublime, Banza asks us to consider the environmental and social impact resource extraction has on communities around the world.