Kiluanji Kia Henda

Born in Luanda / Angola, 1979.
Currently lives and works between Luanda and Lisbon.

He employs a surprising sense of humour in his work, which often hones in on themes of identity, politics, and perceptions of postcolonialism and modernism in Africa.

The spaceship Icarus 13, Luanda

Kiluanji is an autodidact, whose springboard comes from growing up in a household of photography enthusiasts. His conceptual edge was sharpened by immersing himself in music, avant-garde theatre, and collaborating with a collective of artists in Luanda.


  • Affective Utopia

    Kadist Fondation, Paris

  • Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design

    The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; The Albuquerque Museum, NM; Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX, USA

  • Constellations

    Tate Gallery, Liverpool, UK

  • Museum (science) fictions Museum ON/OFF

    Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

  • Kabbo Ka Mwuala (The Girls Basket)

    National Galley of Zimbabwe, Harare

  • Making Africa

    Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

  • New Man – Homem Novo

    Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria

  • Luanda Pop_Check List

    52a Bienalle of Venice, African pavilion, Venice, Italy

  • The Island of Venus

    HANGAR Centro de Investigação Artística, Lisbon, Portugal

  • Another Day of Life

    Tate Gallery, Liverpool, UK

  • Fuckin‘Globo III

    Hotel Globo, Luanda, Angola

  • The Incantation of the Disquieting Muse

    Savvy Contemporary, Berlin, Germany

  • The Divine Comedy

    Museum of African Art - Smithsonian Institution, Washington, USA

  • Producing the Common

    11th Dakar Biennale – Dak’Art, Dakar

  • There is always a cup of sea to sail in

    29a Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil

  • Luanda Triennial

    Luanda, Angola

Astronomy Observatory, Namibe Desert

« It is almost impossible to talk about Kiluanji Kia Henda without linking Kiluanji Kia Henda the artist to Kiluanji Kia Henda the individual. His biography is, at least chronologically, too closely connected with the most significant events in Angola since its independence, only four years before he was born.

Kia Henda often cites autobiographical moments and frequently builds this association between his artistic investigation, his way of thinking, and his upbringing in a context of constant change and great uncertainty.

He lived the first twenty-five years of his life in a country at war, although he claims to have spent all of that time in Luanda, relatively safe from the conflict – although not from its effects.

Centre of astronomy studies and astronauts training, Namibe Desert
Building the spaceship Icarus 13

As a taxidermist of Human Nature, Kiluanji Kia Henda’s work is the action of stuffing long-dead ideologies, regimes and long-lost utopian futures in order to keep a memory of past dreams – but also to reflect on the caricaturising of this inherent disconnect between ideology and reality. He uses irony to offset the nostalgia of this dissection of the past and its lingering effects on the present.

Icarus 13 (View from the Chicala Island, Luanda)
The launch of Icarus 13 (6:pm, 25th of May, 2007)

Henda’s work often reflects this cleavage between dreams, aspirations and the practical aspects of modern society within the context of a post-independence, post-war, post-communist, post-truth society, in which it seems only humour can achieve reconciliation. »

Bruno Leitão, (excerts), 2019 in Atlantica