Steve Bandoma, Amani Bodo, Pierre Bodo, J-P Mika, Kura Shomali, Monsengo Shula, Pathy Tshindele
Gathered for one exhibition, those works by contemporary artists living in Kinshasa give us the image of the actual active and polymorphous Congolese creation. From those universes, contained in canvases, springs up forms and figures that illustrate the real or fantasized Kinshasan life.
Since the seventies, painters from Congo have been known for their “popular painting” and their improvised painting hangings on the sidewalks of the cities. Art is in the street and many artists got inspired by the urban fizzing, particularly Pierre Bodo who stages the codes and the exuberance of the S.A.P.E (Up living and Elegant Personalities’ Society) in his portraits.
Kura Shomali revives faces and positions caught in the street and transforms them. The metropolis and its elements are feeding his work and his protagonists have a hybrid form: characters of a whirring fast west with a planet-shaped head, ebony doll with a immoderately high headdress. Kura Shomali’s drawings reveal the different sides of a world in mutation and are created with a profusion of materials: acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, glitter, sequins, inks…
Even though Congo has known and still experiences many conflicts, Congolese artists have never stopped producing rich and committed works that gives a modern and futuristic vision of the city and draws inspiration from an imagination without borders.
Patty Tschingele’s paintings represent humanoids coping with a strange an organic technology. The painter Monsengo Schula uses images and attitudes of a modern and happy age to illustrate contemporary concerns. The young painter Amani Bodo mixes a human perspective to an urban and global scale in a cosmic vision. Depicting the three ages of Mandela in concentric circles, the painter J-P Mika completes this creative panorama that brings together popular references and emancipates from time and space.
The drawings by Steve Bandoma, from Lost Tribe, Vanity and New Order series, tell us that while ‘’Kin la belle’’ can plays a joyful and exuberant game, the city has different sides. Reassembled body parts create troubling fetishes and his collages rearrange some lost faces. Those scrappy masks and repositioned statuettes link us to a ritual practice, to a society of initiated, and to the sacred world.
Painting has a particularly important place in the new generation of Kinshasan artists. They grew up seeing the works of ‘’popular’’ painters (Samba, Moké, Bodo, Chéri Chérin, etc) who have had a very large success both in Kinshasa and at the international scale. Those young artists pay a tribute to them and go their own way simultaneously, fully assuming the part of individuality that one puts into his practice.
Making up a rousing and dynamic young scene, the Congolese artists have an important place in the global artistic scene. They open a window to their everyday reality and express a universal conscience in a globalized context. Those recent works give us multiple testimony of life in Kinshasa, a city terribly living and rumbling, as Abidjan where the works of many artists can be discovered.