Bodys Isek Kingelez at Hayward Gallery 'Alternative Guide to The Universe' Exhibition

Last week, when I visited the Hayward Gallery's current exhibition 'Alternative Guide to The Universe', I was totally blown away by Bodys Isek Kingelez's architectural models of gloriously imagined buildings and cities, which he creates by using card and paper, but also various found materials and discarded packaging! Since in this blog I am trying to celebrate creativity which repurposes found objects, I wanted to share with you some images of these models, coming straight form the most colourful of imaginations! - though you have to see them in real life to really experience their magnificence... 'The Alternative Guide to The Universe' exhibition is open until the 26th of August 2013.

Bodys Isek Kingelez
Étoile Rouge Congolaise (1990)
Paper, cardboard, polystyrene, plastic and found material
33 x 36 x 19 inches
85 x 92 x 50 cm
Bodys Isek Kingelez
Palais Hiroschima (1991)
Paper, cardboard, polystyrene, plastic
18 x 30 x 16 inches
48 x 78 x 41 cm
Bodys Isek Kingelez
Papillon de Mer (1990/1991)
Paper, cardboard and other found materials
27 1/8 X 44 1/2 X 44 1/2 inches
69 X 113 X 113 cm
Bodys Isek Kingelez
Kimbembele Ihunga (1994)
Paper, cardboard and other found materials
20 x 42 x 39 inches
51 x 108 x 100 cm

Born 1948, Kimbembele Ihunga, Democratic Republic of Congo
Lives and works in Kinshasa

In the hands of Bodys Isek Kingelez, the African metropolis becomes an urban utopia. After graduating from secondary school, Kingelez made Kinshasa his home in 1970. Over the next seven years he studied part time, supporting himself through teaching. During these years, Kinshasa had become a sprawling, chaotic, anarchic city that was falling apart. Kingelez, highly aware of this, dedicated himself aesthetically, politically, and poetically to questioning the human condition, and after 1977, he began to experiment with assembling fantastic structures that offered a redemptive vision for the city. Since 1985, Kingelez has dedicated himself entirely to what he calls “Architectural Modelism.” For Kingelez, this project is one of regeneration; he has stated, “Art is superior knowledge, a vehicle for individual renewal in improving the general well-being.”

He has created hundreds of models from found materials in which paper, cardboard, and plastic are used to construct the present, the future, and the hopes of an African renewal. After 1992, he started imagining entire cities. These colossal works are made up of buildings—some playful, some imposing, some utterly fantastic—that are incorporated into a carefully conceived urban grid. Avenues, parks, waterways, stadiums, and monuments are also part of Kingelez’s meticulous vision. Together these elements fulfill all the functions of an ideal metropolis that the artist would like to see built. His first city was called Kimbembele Ihunga, to honour his native village, his dead father and his mother, who still lives there. About these works—Ville Fantôme (1995), Kinshasa: Project for the Third Millennium (1997), the City of the Future (2000), he noted: “I wanted my art to serve the community that is being reborn to create a new world, because the pleasures of our earthly world depend on the people who live in it. I created these cities so there would be lasting peace, justice and universal freedom. They will function like small secular states with their own political structure, and will not need policemen or an army.” - Biography and images taken from : Contemporary African Art Collection by Jean Pigozzi