Kristof De Clercq is delighted to present the first solo exhibition of Léonard Pongo (b. 1988, Belgium) at the gallery.
In his long-term project Primordial Earth, Léonard Pongo explores the diversity of landscapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo and offers us a loose, allegorical narrative of creation, apocalypse, and everything in between. By presenting the landscape as a living entity, a character of magical beauty, with a will of its own and indomitable power, the earth becomes for Pongo the source of a consciousness from which tradition, philosophy and conceptions of the universe spring. Pongo lets nature speak, without trying to translate it. From the traditions and cosmologies of the Kasai region, he introduces us to a world in which man is not the protagonist, but a character, subordinate to plants and animals.
Léonard Pongo began as a documentary photographer who gradually incorporated snapshot, diary and abstraction into his approach. His long-term project, The Uncanny, captured in the Democratic Republic of Congo, won him several international awards and worldwide recognition.
Pongo's work has been featured in numerous exhibitions in Africa, Asia, Europe and the U.S. and has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Washington Post, National Geographic and several other international publications.
He was chosen as one of PDN's 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch in 2016, won the 2017 Visura Grant for Outstanding Personal Project and received the Getty Grant in 2018. Pongo is part of The Photographic Collective.
His ongoing project Primordial Earth was shown at the Lubumbashi Biennial and the Rencontres de Bamako where it was awarded the 'Prix de l'OIF', and exhibited at BOZAR in 2021 and Mu.ZEE in 2022, Pongo's first solo museum exhibitions.
His work is part of the Flemish Community collection (FOMU collection), Mu.ZEE, the Sindika Dokolo collection and Chazen Museum of Art (Wisconsin, USA).