DAC Spotlight Artist: Kingsley Tamfu - Duboski Art Collaborative

DAC Spotlight Artist: Kingsley Tamfu

Dec 10, 2021


Monica Duboski



     From Douala, Cameroon in Central Africa, DAC is proud to introduce our latest spotlight artist, Kingsley Tamfu. Recognized for his immense and colorful mixed-media portraits of seemingly everyday people, Kinsley, only 25 years old, is quickly making his mark on the Cameroon art scene and beyond.  Kingsley is currently planning his second residency exhibition at the Annie Kadji Art Gallery in Douala (which will debut at the beginning of 2022) and is working on the logistics of taking his show to Nigeria and the United States. 
    Notably, DAC’s first international interview posed unique and unexpected challenges that extended well beyond the nine-hour time difference. At various times we encountered internet outages, power outages, and found our only means of face-to-face communication to be WhatsApp. After finally connecting on our third attempt, I soon realized how much one can take for granted access to the internet and the wide variety of web-based applications we use on an everyday basis, especially in the age of Covid. While almost 90% of the U.S. population already has access to the internet and more than 72% are active social media users, in contrast, just one third of Cameroon has access to the internet and an even smaller 16% are active on social media. Which makes the theme of Kingsley’s upcoming exhibit, “Mirror for Two,” more complex than originally perceived. 


     Kingsley’s latest body of work, created for the “Mirror for Two” exhibition, takes complete inspiration from Kingsley’s own experience and observations of social media; particularly Instagram posts and especially those influenced by American culture. He states, “All over the world, on social media, something is happening where everyone wants to be famous.” He continues, “My generation, everyone wants to be good looking…we all want be best version of ourselves.” Paying homage to the Insta aesthetic, Kingsley’s portraits present women, men, children, and families, who, regardless of their particular pose, all seem aware of and beckon to the lens that captures them. On the surface, the subjects of his paintings seem to be steeped in the popular materialism of the day. But so human and vibrant are his paintings, one quickly finds themselves staring into the faces he created, sensing there is something more than what immediately meets the eye.

     When pressed on whether his work serves as a critique of the seemingly complete integration of social media into our lives, or of the unique fact that an artist from Cameroon can interpret his Instagram feed as a local community, he instead shares that his work does not serve to judge. In fact, he seems quite optimistic. He tells me that social medial is a “small world that units everybody.”  In terms of it’s cultural footprint, he sees social media as having a neutral affect. Kingsley understands the pursuit of displaying one’s best self (no matter how potentially flawed the undertaking it might be) to essentially be a noble effort. He does not endeavor to proclaim whether curated social media personas are shallow or worthy, only to show his subjects as part of something bigger than themselves.

     Furthermore, he says the intentions of his work are just as much about himself, Kingsley, as they are about the individuals on the canvas. While his subjects (rendered from ink and acrylic) are presenting their best foot forward in their fashionable garb, he resolves to give them complicated feelings. The focal point of all his pieces are the faces and the expressions they carry. Of the emotion his paintings convey, he states each expression is an amalgamation of their feelings and the experience of “me in the world today.” Kingsley says the inspiration for his work is one hundred percent himself. He shares that he is very reserved and does not speak a lot. He loves to be alone and is a self-described “overthinker.” He says painting “relieves in his heart something spiritual.” Moreover, Kingsley says his work explores loss, the unresolved, and particularly “any topic of pain” in his life, including the recent death of his mother. Try as we might to present our best face to the world, Kingsley’s work acknowledges the pain that we all endure, especially his own.

 You can find Kingsley’s work on display at Mitochondria Gallery located at 2101 Winter Street, Houston, TX 77007. (Dec 10-11, 2021) 

 Follow @duboskiartcollab and @kings_pens for updates on future exhibits and print releases.

Photographer credit: Zacharie Ngnogue Instagram: @studioxldouala 

Email: z.ngnogue@studioxldouala.com 

 Additional photo gallery credit: Instagram @anniekadji.art, Instagram @kings_pens


Limited edition prints coming soon...

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