Aged only 20 years, Maty Biayenda is a young French-Congolese artist.
Born in 1998 in Namibia, Maty Biayenda left her hometown of Angoulême to attend a preparatory class in Paris to ensure her admission to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
Born into a family of artists, her creativity has only increased over the years. Fascinated by the paintings of Manet and Matisse, as well as Senegalese filmmakers such as Djibril Drop or Ousmane Sémbène, she learned from an early age to sharpen her creative perception and curiosity in many fields. As a French-Congolese and transgender woman, Maty Biayenda says that questioning her identity over the past 3 years has led her to return to her roots and her African culture.
“The French are very attached to skin color. You are either black or mixed race. In high school, some of my teachers did not understand my desire to work on black culture. They told me that I was not black. They said that drawing exclusively black women was reverse racism. But my only weapon is my pencil, which is why I want to help change its narrative and bring people out of ignorance. If we don’t do this work, who will?” — Maty Biayenda
Translated from "Biayenda, the teenager who drew black women"
("Biayenda, l’ado qui dessinait les femmes noires") par Sephora Lukoki
— Nothing But The Wax, 2017
"Oils on A4 paper sheets, some of Maty Biayenda's drawings could almost be reminiscent of the hand painted signs in West African hairdressing salons. But the comparison ends there. This young artist's work captures slices of young Afro-European women’s daily life. An implicit tackle to the monolithic and cliché way they are usually represented. But also a refreshing and fair response to the many challenges brought by our time, with accents of #BlackLivesMatter or #Bodypositivity, and the need for LGBT inclusion or representativeness in the media. 'I felt the need to defend us, black youth, from a different perspective. My drawings reflect both the generation to which I belong and my feminine side. My artistic practice speaks about the world I live in.' Showing her illustrations to an audience wasn't really part of the plan. 'My brother introduced me to Instagram when I was 15.' And the social network turned into an unvoluntary springboard for her. Her creations had such a positive impact and echo that requests for interviews, collaborations or even exhibitions were quick to arrive. Instagram has become her gallery. "