Venice African art space to host Kanku exhibition ‘Tricolore 2022’

'Teenager' by Luigi Christopher Veggetti Kanku, 2021

 VENICE – ‘Tricolore 2022,’ a new, world-touring exhibition by Congolese-Italian artist Luigi Christopher Veggetti Kanku, will start its journey in the City of Canals at The AKKA Project, a dynamic gallery of contemporary African art. The artworks will be there from Jan. 20 until March 10, before moving to the next location.

 Kanku, 42, is a painter and sculptor born in Kinshasa, DRC and raised in the Brianza area of Italy, between Milan and Lake Como. No doubt influenced by the artist’s multi-cultural background, ‘Tricolore 2022’ focuses on the sense of belonging and identity beyond ethnicity, birthplace, or religion. It holds the aim of raising national and international public awareness of the shift happening in Italy towards an increasingly multi-ethnic reality.

 The artist uses visual narration - four artworks in NFT format (Non-Fungible Tokens, which certify and protect the authenticity of the work) - to denounce the futility of prejudices and emphasise the beauty and power of change.

 The exhibition will be shown not only in traditional cultural spaces such as museums, galleries, and art spaces, but also in schools, where debates will be hosted alongside the artwork to engage students and families.

 “I like the idea of treating schools like museums and galleries,” commented the artist. “If the main purpose of this event is to raise the awareness of the individual, I find it right to start at the foundation, unhinging the usual dynamics of art and entering places where citizens are just beginning to build their critical sense.”

 His painting, ‘Teenager,’ portrays a black girl sticking out an Italian ‘tricolore’ flag on her tongue. The body part’s dual connotation of language and taste allude to the concept of communication and nutrition as the foundations of a nation.

 ‘Le due Madri’ is the first work that inspired the entire project and is a contemporary reworking of the famous canvas by Giovanni Segantini, displayed at the Galleria d'Arte Moderna in Milan.

 "I am very happy to have reinterpreted the work of one of the greatest Italian masters,” says Kanku. “After more than 130 years, this canvas comes to life digitally, impregnated with unexpected social content.”

 The artist calls it “a gentle work that touches many themes at the same time, without ever being provocative, just a certain point of reflection.”

 After Venice, the exhibition will tour other Italian locations such as Milan, schools in the province of Monza and Brianza and the Leonardo da Vinci Institute in Bergamo, with the exact schedule still to be confirmed. The artworks will then travel to South Africa, Brazil, and finally the United States where the event will end after 12 months, in Jan. 2023, at the Museum of Fine Arts of Florida State University. 

 The AKKA Project is a commercial art gallery focused on contemporary art from the African continent, active in Dubai since 2016 and in Venice since 2019.

 It was founded by Lidija Kostic Khachatourian who is originally from Serbia. She relocated to Lugano, Switzerland in 1989 and then in 2008 she moved to Dubai with her family. While exploring Sub-Saharan Africa, she started engaging with many artists and building an artwork collection. Khachatourian was captivated by the cultural diversity of the African Continent and her passion for contemporary African art rapidly grew over the years.

 She began to travel systematically across Africa, looking for emerging artists and organising exhibitions for them in the United Arab Emirates and in Europe.

 Nowadays, she is committed to the promotion of contemporary art from Africa through two projects, the first of which is the AKKA Project, whose objective is to promote artists from Africa and encourage their growth through exhibitions, art fairs, and residencies. Her second is a free online platform called Art And About Africa, which aims to create a cartography of cultural spaces, artists’ studios and art institutions on the African continent as well as festivals, biennials and fairs, making the artistic map of the African continent a reality available for everyone.



Luigi Christopher Veggetti Kanku in front of one of his paintings
Lidija Kostic Khachatourian at the Dubai AKKA Project