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Kione: Musonga Mbogo’s Ode To Family & Guidance

Ahead of his third solo exhibition at Sydney’s Hake House, we chatted to Canberra-based visual artist, Musonga Mbogo, about drawing inspiration from life, the future of the art scene, and the meaning behind his exhibition ‘Kione’.

Based on Ngunnawal and Ngambri land, Tanzanian-Zimbabwean visual artist, Musonga Mbogo, wears his heart on his canvases. Utilising his paintbrush to trail each piece of art like fingertips, Mbogo leaves a part of himself on every piece he creates. Through his work, he has been able to explore and create conversations around diaspora, ethnicity, identity, as well as tell the story of his own Australian upbringing. Having previously created art on the backyard fence of his family home, Mbogo bridges the gap between his creative state as an artist, and his life as a brother, son, and friend, constantly shadowing parts of reality through his work. His upcoming exhibition, Kione, sees him intertwine his craft with family, dedicating the show to his three siblings, and naming it after his youngest. The exhibition focuses on the idea of guidance, inviting audiences to embark on a sonic and visual journey unlike any other.

Gearing up for opening night in Sydney on August 11, we chatted to Musonga about what inspires him, how he hopes to see the art scene develop, and what Kione means to him.

Your upcoming show Kione is named after your youngest sibling. Tell me about the relationship you share with your siblings and how it intertwines with your work as an artist?
Of course! I think before art or anything else, I’m the eldest sibling to my sister and two brothers – who are all remarkable in their own ways. Being the first born is tricky because you live a life of trial and error, figuring things out as you go but also being aware that you’re setting an example for someone else. At a point in time, becoming a professional visual artist was the most unobtainable thing I could think of, but I wanted to reach it for them so they felt like they could be fearless too. 

The show also centres around the idea of guidance. When you’re lost, how do you best seek out guidance?
This is such a good question, it helped me realise I’ve been so locked in worrying about how to guide others that I forgot about myself [laughs]. It definitely depends on the situation, but I’ll usually look to family, friends, meditation or music – whichever helps me look at a situation objectively.

What inspires you most in life, both in and outside of art?
Life always gives you what you need, when you need it. 

How do you work towards transcending the art show experience from the ordinary, through your work?
Like most, I didn’t grow up with the ability to access (or afford) art, but I always gravitated towards creatives who would give you an experience alongside their creations. Good memories are free of charge, so even if you can’t afford my paintings, I will always make sure you leave with a memorable experience at the very least.

How do you hope viewers and audiences engage with your art?
With both love and hate. Yin and Yang for real.

Who are some of your favourite artists? Locally or internationally?
It changes all the time, but I’m always inspired by Jess Cochrane, Luke Chiswell, Ash Holmes and Jacquie Meng. They’re all titans in visual art and most are from my hometown of Canberra (with the exception of Ash).

In what ways do you hope to see the art scene in Australia change or evolve in the future?
I hope to see more diversity and an industry that does a better job at championing the voices of the diaspora. Australia is becoming more multicultural every day and the sooner we recognise it in our art spaces, the sooner we can remind the public (and the rest of the world) that art is about more than just canvases on a wall. 

What is the end goal for you when it comes to your craft? Where do you see yourself taking your story next?
Maybe showing people that artists can occupy podiums as well as galleries. There’s really no rules, I’m self-taught and currently designing the wallpaper for a Children’s Hospital – the sky’s the limit.

Kione opens on Friday August 11 at HAKE HOUSE OF ART in Sydney – Full Details Here
Follow Musonga Mbogo here for more.

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