Kevin Bongang’s art style, on display in one of the nine murals in downtown Brunswick, is an exercise in mashing together different cultures.
Bongang was born and spent most of his childhood in Cameroon, a country in central Africa, where he was introduced to the two things that he would later merge into an art style he described as “whimsical, colorful and organic and very influenced by African art and cartoons.”
“I had a cousin, he was an avid drawer. He collected comic books, the first one I saw was one of his. He would look at comics and try to replicate the drawings,” Bongang said. “All we did was copy comic books for fun, and that eventually became something I did by myself.”
Animation also left an impression.
“I’ve always been a cartoon aficionado,” Bongang said. “Growing up watching Bugs Bunny and Dragon Ball Z and those whimsical cartoons. My mom always encouraged me by buying sketchbooks.”
Later, he would get both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Savannah College of Art and Design, specifically the Atlanta campus.
“As I got more invested in art, I started looking at other artists that could influence me. Someone I was really attracted to was (Pablo) Picasso and his style,” Bongang said.
What struck him first was Picasso’s transition from a style based firmly in the real world to one distinctly abstract. Second was the large collection of African art Picasso owned.
“When I looked at this collection, I realized how much African art he’s influenced by, and it started coming out in my style too,” Bongang said. “Especially because I grew up in Africa with African art around me.”
He likes the idea of mixing in the pop-culture of cartoons with traditional art from Africa, and it usually turns out pretty well in practice.
“It’s like two different worlds that organically mesh in my work,” Bongang said.
He’s currently a freelance artist and loving it, Bongang said….