Modern African Art : A Basic Reading List
Central Africa : Congo (Brazzaville)
Le Quellec, Marie-Pierre. "La peinture et la gravure congolaises à travers l'ecole de Poto-Poto de Brazzaville," Dossiers et recherches sur l'Afrique (Meudon, France) no. 3: 87-140, . illus., maps, bibliog. (pp. 114-115). qDT1.D724 AFA. OCLC 32934457.
The Poto Poto workshop was founded in 1951 in the suburbs of Brazzaville by Pierre Lods along the same lines as similar informal art workshop-schools in the Belgian Congo in the 1940s. In this historical account Le Quellec gives the background and context for establishing this kind of art enterprise by the French colonial government. A list of Poto Poto exhibitions (pp. 95-96) shows a steady stream of openings in Africa and Europe since 1952.
After Lods' departure in 1960, Poto Poto continued under the somewhat turbulent joint directorship of two former students -- Nicolas Ondongo and Guy Léon Fylla. Lods' pedagogical legacy was one of teachers who do not teach. In the 1950s, the German Rolf Italiaander introduced copper engraving to Poto Poto artists, more as an experiment of his own rather than to impart skills. (The prints were later made in Europe, and the artists never saw them).
Poto Poto (whose official name is the Centre des Arts Africains) has now seen two generations of artists -- those who worked with Lods and those who came later. Short biographies of some of the Poto Poto artists are given (pp. 101-107). The repertoire of themes used by Poto Poto artists reads not surprisingly like a catalog of tourist art -- the mask, drumming, dance scenes, the hunt, maternity, and "fetisher." Modern themes are invoked occasionally. Le Quellec also deals with the style(s) associated with Poto Poto, notable the "filiform" figures and the narrative, naive quality of most of the painting.