May 03 2024
6:00 pm

CONGOISM – Opening Exhibition



In the confluence of his identities as a Black man in America and an immigrant of Congolese descent, Patience has journeyed through the landscapes of history, culture, and personal experience to create a body of work named “Congoism.” This collection is an exploration of the nuanced interplay between his African roots and the complex tapestry of African American identity, inspired by the insights and provocations found in Johnny Van Hove’s “Congoism.”


“Congoism” delves into the historical and contemporary discourses surrounding the Congo, as highlighted by Van Hove, where the Congo serves as a symbol and a space through which Western intellectual elites have continuously navigated their ambitions, biases, and interpretations of African identity. These discourses, ranging from the dismissive to the romanticized, have not only shaped Western perceptions of the Congo but have also influenced how Congolese and African American identities are constructed and understood within the U.S. and beyond.


Patience’s artwork is a response to these discourses, an attempt to reclaim the narrative and imbue it with the authenticity and complexity of his personal and communal experiences. Each piece serves as a dialogue between the imagined and the real, the historical and the contemporary, reflecting the dynamic interplay of identities that define him and many others in the African diaspora.


Through “Congoism,” Patience invites viewers to engage with the layers of meaning and emotion that emerge from this dialogue. His art is not just an exploration of identity but also a critique of the ways in which power, history, and culture intersect to shape our understanding of ourselves and others. It is a journey through the heart of darkness not as a place of savagery, but as a site of profound human complexity and resilience.


This collection, therefore, is both a personal reflection and a broader commentary on the politics of identity, race, and belonging. It seeks to challenge and expand the viewers’ perceptions, encouraging a deeper, more nuanced understanding of what it means to be Congolese, African American, and, ultimately, human. In doing so, “Congoism” by Patience stands as a testament to the power of art to transcend boundaries, connect histories, and illuminate the shared humanity that binds us all.


From The Artist


Patience Lekien is an artist whose work is a testament to the resilience and richness of the Black and African spirit. Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he was thrust into a new reality in the United States at the tender age of six, following the civil war in his homeland. This transition planted him in a fertile ground of diverse identities and cultures, providing a backdrop against which his artistic identity would flourish. From an early age, Patience demonstrated a profound love for early passion was more than a pastime; it was the beginning of a lifelong journey to bring his vivid ideas to life.


As a storyteller, illustrator, and designer, Patience’s creations are deeply imbued with the essence of African culture, spirituality, and symbolism. His work is not just art for art’s sake but a medium through which he educates and enlightens others about Black and African spirituality. Through his art, Patience shares stories that are meant to inspire, provoke thought, and evoke a sense of interconnectedness with the African diaspora. His transition from the Congo to the US has been a significant influence, enabling him to meld the rich traditions of his African roots with the diverse cultural tapestry of his adopted homeland. This unique blend of experiences and cultures makes Patience’s work a bridge between worlds, inviting viewers to explore the depths of African spirituality and the universal quest for identity and belonging.