At only 21 and with no formal art education, Pierre Mukeba’s raw talent and draughtsmanship is conspicuous. In Gert Chesi’s ‘Voodoo: Africa’s Secret Power’ (1981), the High Priestess says of her husband who is in a trance, ‘forgive him it is just his mouth that speaks’. Similarly it seems that Pierre acts as a direct conduit between experience and his resulting paintings, more than just mere hand-to-eye coordination. This self-taught artist shows all the signs of a mature self-confident artist with finely honed skills.
Wherever possible, primary source is always better than a third party interpretation. The strength of Ai Wei Wei’s response to the devastating earthquake in China produced some powerful artwork. And while there is no doubt that the empathy he is feeling for Syrian refugees is real, so far the artworks seem like a clichéd response. Pierre’s candid paintings gives us a rare first-hand insight into the turbulent times in Africa as we look into the eyes of his family members and see the trauma of their experiences.
Mukeba’s use of fabrics perceived by many African’s as being ‘African’ and yet we know these are printed in Holland and were appropriated from the Javanese batik, typical of colonialism of the 19th and 20th century, and yet Pierre was initially not aware of these facts until recently.
Mukeba has resided in South Australia for the past decade, and today presents as a strong and positive individual. The works in TRAUMA offer a genuine and stoic narrative reflecting memories with a new voice indicative of the growing African community within Australia. - PG, 2017