Out of Africa: Paris' Fondation Cartier surveys 100 years of modern art in the DR Congo

Image of artwork-Albert Lubaki, Untitled.
André Magnin, the chief curator of 'Beauté Congo' at Paris' Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, has gathered over 350 works by 41 artists from the Democratic Republic of Congo to create the largest survey of the African country's vast and vibrant history of modern art to date. Pictured: Albert Lubaki, Untitled
(Image credit: Fabrice Gousset & Cornette de Saint Cyr, Paris)

André Magnin (opens in new tab), the chief curator of 'Beauté Congo' at Paris' Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, has gathered over 350 works by 41 artists from the Democratic Republic of Congo to create the largest survey of the African country's vast and vibrant history of modern art to date. Spanning the mediums of photography, painting, sculpture, comics and music, the show covers almost 100 years of recent history, taking in several generations of artists, who have each witnessed, and in turn created, artistic responses to the country's conflict.

The exhibition's point of departure is 1926, when the DRC was still a Belgian colony and modern painting had only just started to catch on. The first known Congolese works come from Albert and Antoinette Lubaki and Djilatendo, who painted scenes of village life and the natural world on paper. Following the Second World War, French painter Pierre Romain-Desfossés's Atelier du Hangar art workshop liberated painters such as Bela Sara, Mwenze Kibwanga and Pili Pili Mulongoy. Twenty years later, following the 1960 shift to independence that saw Congo became Zaire under Mobutu, the 1978 exhibition 'Art Partout' in Kinshasa uncovered the work of new figurative painters Chéri Samba, Chéri Chérin and Moke.

The tumultuous years that followed – and the two consecutive wars in 1996–1997 and 1998–2003 – influenced the work of artists like Papa Mfumu'eto, whose independent 1990s comic book explored everyday life and struggles in the city of Kinshasa; and sculptor Bodys Isek Kingelez and Rigobert Nimi, who created detailed architectural models of utopian cities or roboticised factories.

Commenting on the country's ongoing unrest, new faces like J-P Mika and Monsengo Shula continue the approach of their elders, while artists Pathy Tshindele and Kura Shomali from the collective Eza Possibles create critical, unconventional collages and paintings.

As well as the many paintings, the work of post-independence photographers such as Jean Depara and Studio 3Z will be on show, capturing the lively and extravagant night life of Kinshasa in the 1950s and 1960s (Depara) and the attitudes and ardor of its youth in the 1970s (Studio 3Z).

Providing a soundtrack to the show will be songs by rumba singer-songwriter Tabu Ley Rochereau, Franco Luambo and his group OK Jazz, and Mbilia Bel, the Queen of Congolese rumba, among others carefully selected by Vincent Kenis of Crammed Discs in collaboration with Césarine Bolya. In addition, the duo will also present their never-before-seen documentary entitled Ndule Ya Kala – a series of candid interviews with those who participated directly or indirectly in Kinshasa’s 1960s music scene.

Image of artwork depicting trees a crocodile and a bird

Spanning the mediums of photography, painting, sculpture, comics and music, the 'Beauté Congo' covers almost 100 years of recent history – from 1926 to the present day – taking in several generations of artists, who have each witnessed, and in turn created, artistic responses to the country's conflict. Pictured: Antoinette Lubaki, Untitled. Courtesy of the artist

(Image credit: Michael De Plaen)

An image of artwork depicting birds, fish and a person

Jean-Bosco Kamba, Untitled, 1958. Courtesy of the artist and Pierre Loos, Brussels 

(Image credit: Michael De Plaen)

An image of colourful artwork depicting Birds

Sylvestre Kaballa, Untitled, c. 1950. Courtesy of the artist and Pierre Loos, Brussels 

(Image credit: Michael De Plaen)

Image of artwork showing a racoon like animal

Pili Pili Mulongoy, Untitled, c. 1950. Courtesy of the artist and Pierre Loos, Brussels 

(Image credit: André Morin, the artist and Pierre Loos, Brussels )

Image of artwork depicting orange chickens

Kayembe, Untitled. Courtesy of La Fondation Cartier

(Image credit: TBC)

An image of artwork depicting animals, human forms with animal heads.

Norbert Ilunga, Untitled, c. 1950. Courtesy of the artist and Pierre Loos, Brussels 

(Image credit: André Morin)

Image of an African lady stood by writing on a wall

Jean Depara, Untitled (Moziki), c. 1955 – 65. Courtesy of the artist and the Pigozzi Collection

(Image credit: TBC)

Image of three african men

Jean Depara, Untitled, c. 1955 – 65. Courtesy of the artist and Revue Noire

(Image credit: TBC)

Image of Two African men

Ambroise Ngaimoko, Euphorie de deux jeunes gens qui se retrouvent, 1972.

(Image credit: André Morin)

Image of artwork, an abstract painting of peoples heads

Mwenze Kibwanga, Untitled, 1954. Courtesy of the artist and Pierre Loos, Brussels 

(Image credit: Michael De Plaen)

An image of a painting of the boxing match Ali vs Foreman, Kinshasa

Moke, Untitled (Ali vs Foreman, Kinshasa), 1974. Courtesy of the artist

(Image credit: André Morin)

An image of stick like figures with a plain red and yellow starred background

Mode Muntu, Le Calendrier lunaire Luba, 1979. Courtesy of the artist and Meir Levy, Brussels 

(Image credit: Michael De Plaen)

An image of stick like figures on a blue background with a brown branch like pattern

Mode Muntu, Kusaidia (L’Entraide), 1980. Courtesy of the artist and Michael De Plaen

(Image credit: Michael De Plaen, the artist and Michael De Plaen)

An image of artwork of African people in a nightclub stood around tables

Moke, Kin Oyé, 1983. Courtesy of the artist 

(Image credit: André Morin)

An image of artwork of an African man

Chéri Samba, La Vraie Carte du monde, 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris 

(Image credit: TBC)

An image of artwork of person walking by a building with rocks floating above her

 Kiripi Katembo, Subir, 'Un regard' series, 2011. Courtesy of the artist

(Image credit: TBC)

An image of artwork showing the reflection of people in standing water on the sidewalk

Kiripi Katembo, Tenir, 'Un regard' series, 2011. Courtesy of the artist

(Image credit: TBC)

An image an artwork colourful drawing showing a male and female

JP Mika, Kiese na Kiese (Le Bonheur et la Joie), 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Pas-Chaudoir collection, Belgium 

(Image credit: Antoine de Roux)

An artistic image of an African female stood in front of a coloured background with drapes to the side

JP Mika, La Nostalgie, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and The Hague 

(Image credit: Florian Kleinefenn)

An abstract piece if artwork in the shape of a woman wearing a boxing glove, within the image are different peoples faces

Steve Bandoma, Je suis jeune, 'Cassius Clay' series, 2014.  Courtesy of the artist 

(Image credit: Florian Kleinefenn)

Artistic image depicting five people in space holding onto a satellite with an African person sitting on top of the satellite

Monsengo Shula, Ata Ndele Mokili Ekobaluka (Tôt ou tard le monde changera), 2014. Courtesy of the artist

(Image credit: Florian Kleinefenn)

ADDRESS

Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain
261 Boulevard Raspail
75014 Paris

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