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Leopold II - Eyes, Window to The Soul Painting

Mandla Senzanje

United States

Painting, Oil on Canvas

Size: 36 W x 48 H x 0.5 D in

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Artist Recognition

link - Showed at the The Other Art Fair

Showed at the The Other Art Fair

link - Artist featured in a collection

Artist featured in a collection

About The Artwork

his painting portrays Leopold II, the second King of the Belgians from 1865 to 1909 and the autocratic ruler of the Congo Free State from 1885 to 1908. His reign in the Congo Free State was marked by extreme brutality, including the gruesome amputation of hands from men, women, and children who failed to meet rubber quotas. Under his rule, the Congolese population is estimated to have suffered a devastating decline, ranging from 1 to 15 million, due to epidemic diseases, acts of violence by his regime, and famine caused by his policies. The significance of painting a figure like Leopold II lies in the need to give a face to the cause of suffering endured by black people. Behind Leopold, there is a glowing aura, symbolizing how some view his actions as a necessary evil, attributing them to a misguided attempt to "civilize" and introduce religion to African people. This contrasting halo of light is bordered by darkness, and intricate filigree. The darkness represents the heinous atrocities that occurred under his regime in the Congo. The filigree in the painting signifies the separation of Leopold's actions from his image, emphasizing the need to expose the power structures that have brutalized black people and continue to do so. Within the filigree, rubber tree leaves are incorporated as a poignant reminder of the traumatic exploitation of rubber resources that caused immense suffering to the Congolese people. Historically, statues of Leopold stood around the world until the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests prompted a reevaluation of why such figures were commemorated.

Details & Dimensions

Painting:Oil on Canvas

Original:One-of-a-kind Artwork

Size:36 W x 48 H x 0.5 D in

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Delivery Time:Typically 5-7 business days for domestic shipments, 10-14 business days for international shipments.

My art originates from a sense of homesickness, a feeling rooted in the frustration of being unable to converse in my native language for years. The gradual fading of my mother tongue, coupled with the inability to reunite with family during holidays and special events, has led me to question why life must unfold in this manner. Am I merely unlucky, or perhaps cursed? In the midst of this existential inquiry, I discovered purpose through oil painting. It became my vessel for self-education, a means to delve into the rich history of black people across the globe, far away from their ancestral homes. Through my art, I craft portraits, not merely as visual representations but as powerful connections between the past and the present. Each stroke of the brush serves as a bridge, linking my story with that of others and weaving narratives that are profoundly personal and cherished. In painting these portraits, I find not only a medium for creative expression but also a profound way to tell stories that are close to my heart. Each artwork becomes a testament to resilience, a tribute to the enduring spirit of black people, and a beacon of hope that transcends the boundaries of language and geography. Through my art, I navigate the depths of homesickness, transforming it into a vibrant tapestry of cultural heritage and shared humanity.

Artist Recognition

Showed at the The Other Art Fair

Handpicked to show at The Other Art Fair presented by Saatchi Art in Dallas

Artist featured in a collection

Artist featured by Saatchi Art in a collection

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