ARTIST CREATES IMPORTANT AWARENESS
In the culture of the Congo and other African countries, masks represent ancestors, spiritual figures, animals, and mythological characters. In Nicaise Bondo’s depiction, the ancient mask is a bit different. In his art piece “Moshi,” or “spirit of the masks,” Bondo captures a figure with a mask that physically is split into two different patterns. It might seem like a visually appealing drawing, but the deeper message of this piece has a story to tell.
Nicaise Bondo’s aim is to capture his beloved African culture through his drawings and share folk stories with his audience. “Back home, we have a lot of fairy tales and stories, but people don’t know about it,” Bondo said. “You see the Walt Disney cartoons; they’re successful around the world. At the same time, we know they’re from here. To me, instead of doing something that people already know, do something from your culture, to share it.”
Bondo, a visual communication student, is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and attended an art academy before moving to the United States to further his education. He wasn’t sure becoming an artist was his gift, but he was fed up with the idea that being a doctor was his only path.
“I always wanted to draw, but I didn’t want to go to art school,” Bondo said. “My mom was like, ‘you draw all the time, you should get involved with art.’ She pushed me, and I changed my mind.”
After drawing for much of his life, Bondo moved to Denver and attended CCD before transferring to CU Denver. Although he claims the difference between the university he attended in Congo and CU Denver isn’t too drastic, Bondo says that there’s much more at student’s disposal than some may realize.
“You have access to more equipment,” Bondo said. “We didn’t have appropriate computers or software. I wanted to learn animation, but we didn’t have animation back home.”
Bondo recently had an exhibition at the Alliance Francaise de Denver, where he showed off some of his pieces. Through the event, Bondo was able to network with others and generate more exposure.
His favorite artist is a fellow African artist, Botombe who, like Bondo, depicts African culture and values through his art- work. His use of colors and subjects is what Bondoadmires most about him, although he’s very adamant that he’s different artistically from his idol.
“What we know about African art [is] it’s not just people that we see half-naked,” Bondo said. “There’s a life lesson you can learn. Most of the stories are attached to family. I want people to learn about the culture.”
After graduation, Bondo hopes to become a professional animator, eventually opening up his own animation studio, so that he can collaborate and work with other artists.
If you’d like to check out or purchase his art, go to his