Modern African Art : A Basic Reading List
Central Africa : Congo (Democratic Republic)
60 ans de peinture au Zaïre / by Joseph-Aurélien Cornet, Remi de Cnodder, Ivan Dierickx and Wim Toebosch. Bruxelles: Les Editeurs d'Art Associés, 1989. 212pp. illus. (pt. color), bibl. refs. qND1099.C6S68 1989 AFA. OCLC 21947459.
Sixty years ago, or more precisely in 1929, an exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels of watercolors by Albert Lubaki marked the seminal event in the annals of modern painting in Congo (Democratic Republic). A few years prior to that, Belgian colonial officer George Thiry "discovered" and encouraged Lubaki, an ivory carver, to try transferring onto paper pictures and motifs such as those found on dwellings. The second key patron was Gaston-Denys Périer, who recognized the significance of Thiry's discovery of Lubaki, and was instrumental in organizing exhibitions and publishing articles about this new phenomenon. Thiry was also responsible for identifying and promoting the second major Congolese painter, "Djilatendo" (actually, Tshyela Ntendu). This early history of precursors of modern Zarian art, told by Cornet in the first chapter, came to an end in the 1930s when Thiry and Périer had a falling out and their collaboration ended.
The next defining personality on the modern Congolese art scene was Pierre Romain-Desfossés to whom an entire chapter is devoted, along with the École de Lubumbashi. In Desfossés' atelier (called "Le Hangar") Bela, Pili Pili, Mwenze, Kabala and others were encouraged to paint. Following his death in 1954, they moved to the Académie des Beaux-Arts then recently established in Lubumbashi by the artist Flamand Laurent Moonens.
The artistic capital of Kinshasa is the subject of the long section of this book. At the heart of the artistic ferment in Kinshasa is the Académie des Beaux-Arts, but around the fringes are the myriad self-taught artists. The "École de Kinshasa" is actually a misnomer since the term applies to several artistic enterprises in Kinshasa rather than to a single school. In this last chapter, Cornet presents short sketches of some of the better known painters from Kinshasa, including Mongita, Domba, Nkusu Felelo, Mavinga, Kamba Luesa, Konde Bila, Nduku a Nzambi, as well as several younger generation artists. He places these painters with the institutional framework and artistic groupings that have existed in Kinshasa since the 1950s -- L'école de Stanley Pool, L'école Alhadeff, l'école Saint-Luc, l'Académie des Beaux-Arts, Le Grand Atelier, the Congolese section of l'Association Internationale des Critiques d'Art, Les Sablistes, and The New Generation.
This book is a thorough and important contribution to the history of modern painting in Congo (Democratic Republic) but remains ultimately a synthesis of the history yet to be written. There are numerous color reproductions of paintings; much of the archival material comes from the private collection of Belgian Ivan Dierickx.
Reviewed by Jean-Luc Vellut in Journal of African history (Cambridge) 31 (3): 507-508, 1990.
Art pictural zaïrois / edited by Bogumil Jewsiewicki. Paris: Centre d'études sur la langue, les arts et les traditions populaires des francophone en Amérique du Nord; distributed by Les Éditions de l'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, 1992. 282pp. (Les nouveaux cahiers du CÉLAT, 3). N7399.C6A78 1992X AFA. OCLC 29428644.
The papers in this volume explore popular culture, the nature of popular memory, the uses of history, and the cultural life of African cities. The particular focus is Congolese popular painting. These papers emerged from a one-day workshop held at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, and a display of paintings by Tshibumba Kanda-Matulu (in Bogumil Jewsiewicki's collection).
In his introduction ("Peindre pour comprendre le monde et pour y être présent," pp. 9-23), Bogumil Jewsiewicki discusses the phenomenon of popular painting in Congo (Democratic Republic) throughout the twentieth century and sets the context for the essays that follow. Six of the essays discuss the work of Tshibumba Kanda-Matulu, whose paintings are historical narratives in the popular genre. Based in Lubumbashi, Tshibumba Kanda-Matulu began painting in the 1960s and disappeared in the early 1980s, possibly a victim of local uprisings and hostilities. His paintings depict the violence of the era he witnessed, but also the violence of the earlier colonial and slave-trading periods. The six essays on this artist are: Bennetta Jules-Rosette, "What is `popular?' The relationship between Zairian popular and tourist paintings," pp. 41-62; - José Tshisungu wa Tshisungu, "Le `train culturel' du Shaba et la construction d'une culture nationale," pp. 107-115; - Crawford Young, "Painting the burden of the past- history as tragedy," pp. 117-138; - Georges Dupré, "La signification de la perspective dans sept tableaux de Tshibumba Kanda-Matulu," pp. 139-153; - T. K. Biaya, "Et si la perspective de Tshibumba était courbe?," pp. 155-164; and Edouard Vincke, "Un outil ethnographique: la peinture populaire contemporaine au Zaire," pp. 223-241.
Two other self-taught Congolese painters of popular historical narratives give personal histories: Nzunguba Ibio, "Récit de vie: Cyprien D'Ziba Gokpa," pp. 259-274; -- Nzunguba Ibio, "Récit de vie: Dido Baruti Kandolo," pp. 243-257.
Also from Art pictural zaïrois, there are essays by Ibongo Gilungula on Kinshasa's self-taught painters; by Joseph Cornet on the precursors of modern painting in Congo (Democratic Republic); and by Mamadou Diouf on depictions of the marabout Ahmadou Bamba ibn Senegalese glass paintings.
Reviewed by Kalala Ngalamulume in Journal of African history (London) 36 (1): 164-165, 1995.
Arts plastiques de l'Afrique contemporaine: 60 ans d'histoire à Lubumbashi, R-D Congo / sous la direction de Léon Verbeek. Paris: Harmattan, 2008. 334pp. bibl. refs. OCLC 259253283.
Arts plastiques de l'Afrique contemporaine: 60 ans d'histoire à Lubumbashi, R-D Congo / sous la direction de Léon Verbeek. Paris: Harmattan, 2008. 334pp. (Mémoires lieux de savoir. Archive congolaise). N7399.C62L862 2008 AFA. OCLC 259253283.
The mission of Léon Verbeek is to collect and document the work of Lubumbashi artists, primarily painting, but other media as well. He has more than 7,300 works, covering six decades. This book of essays is the result of the ongoing project by Verbeek and his collaborators. The web site Lubumarts, hosted by the Musée royal de l’Afrique central, fully documents the arts of Lubumbashi http://lubumarts.africamuseum.be/
Contents: D'une thèse de doctorat à la constitution d'une banque de données : naissance d'un projet de recherche et d'une équipe / Léon Verbeek -- La vie sociale de l'artiste lushois / Jean-Pierre Kalembwe Longwa -- La formation de l'artiste lushois / Sylvestre Cabala Kaleba -- Les ateliers d'art / Jean-Pierre Kalembwe Longwa -- Les structures de soutien aux artistes libres associations et pouvoirs publics ; Les associations des artistes plasticiens de Lubumbashi : essai d'une analyse socio-historique / Jean-Pierre Kalembwe Longwa -- Thématique de l'art plastique de Lubumbashi / Léon Verbeek -- La circulation des objets d'art, la commercialisation / Dominique Musonda Milundu -- Promotion et mécénat / Léon Verbeek -- L'art dans l'espace privé ou public, l'art dans la vie privée / par Sylvestre Cabala Kaleba, Jean-Pierre Kalembwe Longwa et Léon Verbeek -- L'art dans la vie publique, Lubumbashi et son hinterland : urbanisme, architecture et décoration / Léon Verbeek.
Auf der Suche nach der schwarzen Malerei: Dokumente zur Rezeption von Lubaki und Djilatendo. [Bayreuth]: Iwalewa-Haus, 1989. 21 leaves. illus. qND1099.C6A918 1989 AFA. OCLC 23202724.
The "rediscovery" of the original discovery and promotion of Zairian (then Belgian Congo) artists Albert Lubaki and Tshyela Ntendu emerged from the papers and correspondence of Gaston Denis Périer, now in the possession of Belgian Ivan Dierickx. Back in the 1920s and 1930s Périer and the Belgian artist Georges Thiery collaborated in bringing the work of Lubaki to Brussels for an exhibition in 1929 and in promoting both artists in the years that followed, before Périer and Thiery went their separate ways.
This book reproduces some of the correspondence from the early 1930s relating to these efforts. It also reprints some of the writings of the time about the reception of these artists in a Europe unfamiliar with this kind of African art.
Badi-Banga Ne-Mwine. Contribution à l'étude historique de l'art plastique zaïrois moderne: fin XVe siècle-1975. Kinshasa: Éditions Malayika, 1977. 138pp. illus. (pt. color). N7399.C6B13 1977 AFA. OCLC 04214606.
Bani-Banga's contribution to the history of modern Congolese art may be characterized as the Official Story; it comes to us with the imprimatur of the head of state, Mobutu Sese Seko. This is the approved history whose running theme is the government's laudable support for the arts and its underlying agenda: the quest for authenticity. Badi-Banga's focus is largely on academic artists, those active in official circles, affiliated with the Association Internationale des Critiques d'Art (AICA). Do not look here for information on the street artists and the popular painters -- too subversive. Art schools of the Belgian colonial period, however, are treated, as these are now seen as the foundation for today's art academies. And deference is paid to Congo's rich and ancient art traditions. Badi-Banga's history is more a summation of official artistic enterprise in Congo (Democratic Republic) than a full-blown history. Even he claims no more.
Bamba Ndombasi Kufimba and Musangi Ntemo. Anthologie des sculpteurs et peintres zaïrois contemporains. Paris: Nathan, Agence de coopération culturelle et technique, 1987. 109pp. illus. (color), bibliog. qN7399.C6B26 1987X AFA. OCLC 17503210.
Modern art in Congo (Democratic Republic), as elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, dates to the colonial period, which saw the first tentative efforts to establish schools and ateliers under the guidance of missionaries and a handful of European artists. The true Congolese precursors, however, were two painters, Albert Lubaki and Tshyela Ntendu.
Congolese artists participated in colonial expositions and later in international expositions, while at home two prestigious fine arts schools were established: L'Académie des Beaux-Arts de Kinshasa and L'Ecole de Lubumbashi (founded by Pierre Romain-Desfossés). With independence came a policy of official encouragement of the arts, resulting in many public commissions, and the establishment of a Congolese section of l'Association internationale des critiques d'art (AICA). The Institut des Musées Nationaux du Zaïre also set up a modern art section.
Within the "Ecole de Kinshasa" (that is, those associated with or influenced by the Académie des Beaux-Arts) different groups of artists evolved: the Congolese avant-garde, the Grand Atelier, the "sabléistes," and the New Generation. In addition, there is a whole group of self-taught artists, referred to locally as "watistes" (i.e., painters of Mammy Wata).
Eight sculptors and nineteen painters are presented, as representing some of Congo's most original, talented and "authentic" artists. All are men, mainly of the generation now in their 40s. The works illustrated date mainly from the mid-1980s. Included, among others, are Liyolo, Nkusu, Makala, Pili-Pili, Tamba, Samba and Lema.
Reviewed: "Peinture et sculpture moderne au Zaïre," Balafon (Abidjan) no. 86: 48-49, janvier 1988.
Beurden, Sarah Van. “Civilizing citizens?: museums as brokers of postcolonial Zairian modernity,” chapter 5, pages 168-207, 313-321, in the author’s Authentically African: arts and the transnational politics of Congolese culture, Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2015. illus., bibliog. (p. 329-363). N7399.C6 B48 2015 AFA. OCLC 910981060.
The official status of modern art in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the mid-20th century was not encouraging. Overshadowed by the interest at home and abroad in ‘traditional’ Congolese artistic heritage, the modernists were largely ignored by the government museum officials and spurned by international art critics. The very idea of modernity in art ran counter to Mobutu Sese Seko’s political vision for cultural authenticity. Although the museums in the Congo had small collections of modern art, it was not a serious commitment.
Biaya, Tshikala K. "Le peinture populaire comme mode d'action politique des classes dominées au Zaïre, 1960-1989," Contemporary French civilization (Bozeman, MT) 14 (2): 334-351, 1990. illus., bibliog. [special issue: Afrique et Antilles francophones / edited by Claude Bouygues]. DT521.A25 1990 AFA. OCLC 23960763.
Popular painting in Congo (Democratic Republic) is an urban genre whose origins can be traced back to the time of independence in 1960. The self-taught painters, working with inexpensive materials, have found a ready market among the common people as well as among the elites. Among the many themes painted, political ones constitute a significant portion. Between 1960 and 1985 five successive political themes predominated: (1) independence and national liberation with images of Lumumba, Mami Wata and Mokomboso; (2) "pax Mobutu" with images of Lumumba, Mobutu and civil war; (3) the new regime with images again of Mami Wata and Mobutu; (4) the crisis of 1975-1980 with images of Mokomboso and Mwambuyi; and (5) the end of hope, 1980-1985. Biaya elaborates each of these themes.
Together these paintings represent a collective national memory in which two types of motif recur: the traditional symbol and the portrait or figurative representation of an event. As a vehicle for the creation of a popular consciousness among the dominated classes, these paintings are remarkably successful.
Bomoi mobimba = Toute la vie: 7 artistes zairois, collection Lucien Bilinelli. Charleroi, Belgium: Palais des beaux-arts, 1996. 190pp. illus. (color). ND1099.C6B66 1996 AFA. OCLC 37868685.
Seven Congolese artists feature in this exhibition held in Charleroi, Belgium, in 1996: Bodo, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Cheik Ledy, Chéri Samba, Moké, Syms, and Vuza Ntoko. The art works are from the collection of Lucien Bilinelli and appear to have been collected in Kinshasa in the 1990s. With the exception of Body Isek Kingelez’s architectural maquettes, the works are all paintings uniformly in the Chéri Samba-style of colorful, satirical, socio-political narratives.
Congo-Zaïre: Thango, de Brazza à Kin: [exhibition, Musée national des arts d'Afrique et d'océanie] 25 septembre 1991-14 janvier 1992. Paris: Musée National des Arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie, 1991. 55pp. illus. (pt. color). (Cahiers de l'ADEIAO, 10). N7399.C6C74 1991 AFA. OCLC 25705909.
The artist François Thango, around whom this exhibition is built, was associated with both the Brazzaville and Kinshasa schools of art during his career. He thus serves as an artistic link between them. This small catalog provides in a nutshell the history and key players in the late-colonial era art scene on the banks of the lower Zaïre river: Poto-Poto in the Congo, and the atelier Alhadeff and École du Pool Malebo in Congo (Democratic Republic). There is also a short account of the Institut des Musées Nationaux du Zaïre, established after Congolese independence. Contributors to the text include Badi-Banga Ne-Mwine, Joseph Cornet, Jean-Luc Rondreux, Shaje Tshiluila, Monique Taminau-Lévy and Jean-Baptiste Tati-Loutard.
Hochegger, Herman. Sculptures nouvelles de Bandundu (République du Zaïre). Bandundu: CEEBA, 1980. 160pp. illus., map, bibliog. (Publications. CEEBA, Série II, 61). NB1099.C6G68 AFA. OCLC 8644576.
Art in the service of the Christian church has been encouraged by the Catholic priests in Bandundu region of Congo (Democratic Republic) -- not as religious imitations of European icons, but as creations of sculptures in the style of the region, a continuation of the Yansi figures. Thus, a kind of "new sculpture" rather than "modern sculpture" is being fostered. Remaining faithful to traditional styles is, after all, in keeping with Zaïrian policy of "authenticity."
Working in a variety of woods, these sculptors of Bandundu carve three-dimensional figures and bas-reliefs depicting biblical stories, madonna-and-child figures, crucifixes and creches. Short biographies of three artists are included: Mail Onkabesam (1945- ), Mukul (1945- ), and Belesi Yey (1984- ).
Jadot, J. M. "Les tendances actuelles des arts plastiques indigenes au Congo belge," Les arts plastiques africains [special issue of] Problèmes d'Afrique centrale (Bruxelles) 13 (44): 110-131, 1959. illus., notes. DT348.P962 AFA.
This remarkable and curiously quaint document is an unabashed articulation of Belgian colonial attitudes toward the tuition of black artists in the Belgian Congo: what they should (or should not) be exposed to in order to nurture, yet protect, their innate creative sensibilities. "Native artists" should be encouraged, but not too far or too fast. The initiatives of a handful of Belgians to protect artisan traditions as well as to promote new artists are viewed as positive and progressive. (It is too early in the game to question reflexively paternalistic attitudes. It is only 1959, after all). Equally significant has been the role of Christian missionaries in fostering the arts, even if it has been for the greater glory of God.
A distinction is drawn between sculptors and painters in the Congo of 1959. The former emerge from ancient traditions of sculpture, although today they may have exchanged religious and spiritual motivations for social and economic ones. Painters, on the other hand, are working on a clean canvas, creating an art for art's sake. What will be the future of black art in the Congo, Jadot asks, poised on the cusp of Belgian decolonization and Congolese independence? Who will support the arts? How will artists and artisans survive and thrive?
Jewsiewicki, Bogumil and Barbara Plankensteiner. An/Sichten: Malerei aus dem Kongo 1990-2000. Vienna; New York: Springer, 2001. 191pp. illus. (color), bibliog. (pp. 190-191). ND1099.C6J49 2001X AFA. OCLC 47971878.
Popular painting in the Democratic Republic of Congo narrates the turbulent times in this country, no more so than in the decade of the 1990s. Narrative in form and naive in style, these paintings depict war, civil unrest, politicians and big men, social upheaval, AIDS, redentism and other throw-backs to an illusory, idyllic past (e.g., Mami Wata). These themes are reflected in more than 160 paintings illustrated in this catalog. Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, and Bunia are principal sites of production and consumption of this distinctive form of Congolese popular culture. Many of the paintings are from Bogumil Jewsiewicki's collections and from the collection of the Museum für Völkerkunde in Vienna. In the essays, the economic and social contexts of these paintings are analyzed with respect to content and patronage.
Jewsiewicki, Bogumil. Congo chronicle: Patrice Lumumba in urban art. New York: Museum for African Art, 1999. 110pp. illus. (pt. color), bibliog. (Pp. 108-110). qND1099.C63T752 1999X AFA. OCLC 45963266.
Patrice Lumumba, the martyred hero of Congolese independence, is a man at the crossroads of memory and history. Assassinated within months of becoming prime minister of Congo on June 30, 960, he lives on in the collective memory of the Congolese people. Lumumba the legend and cultural hero is commemorated in popular paintings to this day. One of the painters is Tshibumba Kanda-Matulu, a Katanganese, whose paintings constitute the centerpiece of this exhibition.
Jewsiewicki, Bogumil. Mami Wata: la peinture urbaine au Congo. Paris: Gallimard, 2003. 236pp. illus. (color), bibliog. (pp. 215-229). ND1099.C6J494 2003 AFA. OCLC 52596541
Urban painting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo speaks to a collective memory that resonates with local audiences. The tumultuous decades of the 20th century are captured in images of colonial brutality, civil unrest, Patrice Lumumba's assassination, political corruption of Mobutu, the HIV-AIDS epidemic, the siren Mami Wata, debauchery and sorcery. Jewsiewicki deconstructs this prolific artistic production as it parallels the Congo's history and socio-political evolution from the colonial to the post-colonial. He has had years of interaction with many of the Congolese popular painters and is a collector of this genre of painting. In a concluding section, he discusses these personal encounters with Tshibumba Kanda Matulu, Chéri Samba, Gabriel Londe Jodio and Nyembo Mukuavi-Lukundu.
Jewsiewicki, Bogumil. "Painting in Zaire: from the invention of the West to the representation of social self," pp. 130-151. In: Africa explores: 20th century African art. New York: Center for African Art; Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1991. illus. (pt. color), notes. qN7391.65.V63 1991X AFA. OCLC 22909235.
Urban painters in Congo (Democratic Republic) are like jazz musicians: endlessly improvising on repeating themes, playing to audience expectations, mixing the familiar with variation. The particular dynamic between the Congolese painter and his client is key to understanding the kind of paintings he produces and the socio-political context within which he works.
The impact of the West throughout the colonial period on the people of Zaïre/Belgian Congo has challenged and stimulated today's painters, just as it did for earlier generations of artists, notably Albert Lubaki and Tshyela Ntendu. The consumers of urban paintings today in Congo (Democratic Republic) are the petits bourgeois; the themes in the paintings speak to their aspirations, their collective history, and their fears. A political content in this type of painting underlies a moralizing, didactic surface discourse. This can be seen in the work of Chéri Samba, Moke, and others.
Naissance de la peinture contemporaine en Afrique centrale, 1930-1970; [exhibition, March 13-May 3, 1992]. Tervuren: Musée royal de l'Afrique centrale, 1992. 87pp. illus. (pt. color), bibliog. ND1091.65.N15 1992. OCLC 26653957.
The museum at Tervuren brought out its collection of twentieth-century Congolese paintings for a special exhibition, which focused on the colonial-era art schools at Elisabethville, Léopoldville, and Brazzaville. It also included the precursors Albert Lubaki and Tshyela Ntendu. Five essays and illustrations of works with thirty-five artists' biographies comprise the catalog. Jean-Luc Vellut writes on the initial artistic encounters between the Belgian Congo and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century and in particular the exhibitions in Europe that featured Lubaki and Tshyela Ntendu. The school at Elisabethville run by Pierre Romain-Desfossés quickly became associated with the work of Pili-Pili, Bela and Mwenze; W. Toebosch chronicles these developments.
Joseph Cornet documents the history of modern paintings in Kinshasa, which centers on L'Académie des Beaux-Arts and its predecessor, the art school of Saint-Luc under the guidance of Brother Marc (Victor Wallenda). But Kinshasa (then Léopoldville) also has its lively periphery of artistic activities: the Stanley-Poole group under Laurent Moones and later Maurice Alhadeff and the myriad street artists.
The career of François Thango, the subject of the fourth essay, crosses boundaries between Congo and Congo (Democratic Republic). He was associated with the Poto-Poto atelier in Brazzaville, but later crossed over to Léopoldville and worked closely with Alhadeff. In a concluding essay, Belgian artist F. Pier comments on the painting of several Congolese artists.
NzungubaIbio, Jean Pierre. Peintres, peinture et culture populaire à Bunia (Zaire): essai d'analyse sociohistorique / JeanPierre NzungubaIbio. PhD dissertation, Université Laval, 1994. xvii, 385 leaves, ca. 43 leaves,  leaves of plates : illus., maps, plates. Notes: Includes reprints of articles on specific artists: Dido Baruti Kandolo, Cyprien D'Ziba Gokpa, Gabriel Londe Jodio, Joseph Nchewki. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 369385). OCLC 37273034. ND1099.C6N9 1994
Like other urban centers in Congo, Bunia is home to a cadre of self-taught painters who make a livelihood from selling their work. These popular naive paintings deal thematically with what is called "collective memory" both past and present; they find buyers in the local community among those for whom this collective memory is lived experience. The narrative paintings depict the ideal village or recent political events in Congo. Didactics in the form of written inscriptions are characteristic of these paintings. Portraits, usually commissioned, are another popular genre.
Nzunguba-Ibio's doctoral dissertation treats these paintings from the socio-historical perspective as one aspect of Bunia's popular culture; he examines the context of the lives of the artists, the subject matter depicted in the painting, and the milieu in which the works are made and sold.
The lives of eleven painters are highlighted, all working in Bunia in the early 1990s when the fieldwork was conducted. Their paintings are similar in that similar themes recur, but individual styles and creativity are evident. The bottom line is economics: these paintings must find buyers, and the dialogue and negotiation between the artist and customer are critical. This aspect, too, is discussed at length.
Includes reprints of articles on specific artists: Dido Baruti Kandolo, Cyprien D'Ziba Gokpa, Gabriel Londe Jodio, Joseph Nchewki.
Painters of Lubumbashi: Bela, Pili Pili, Mwenze ; [exhibition, European Centre for Development Policy Management, June 30-August 28, 1992] / text by Joseph Cornet. Maastrict: [s.n.], 1992. pp. illus. (pt. color). Text in English and French. qND1099.C6P14 1992 AFA. OCLC 29015019.
Pierre Romain-Desfossés had rather romantic, naive, if well-intentioned ideas about the future of art in Africa. He put these into play in Lubumbashi (then Elisabethville) where he settled in 1946. A painter himself, Romain-Desfossés taught the young men who gathered around his studio in Lubumbashi a naive decorative technique and style of painting, which, according to his own ideals, concentrated on themes of nature and wild animals. It was a small circle of artists and among them three stand out: Bela (actually from Chad who served as Romain-Desfossés' servant), Pili Pili and Mwenze. Though the trio achieved some success and were able to make a living at their art, they fell into a repetitious monotony following their master's death in 1954. Yet Pili Pili and Mwenze continue to paint (as of 1992); Bela has died.
Popular art painting in Zaïre: Art Bodo, Lelo, Moke, Chéri Samba, Syms, Simsimaro; [exhibition, Hotel Maastricht, Maasrtricht, June 28-August 27, 1992; text by Bogumil Jewsiewicki]. Maastricht: s. n.], 1992. pp. illus. (pt. color). Text in English and French. qND1099.C6P83 1992 AFA. OCLC 29014766.
Congolese popular painting is highly narrative, even in the absence of written inscriptions, which are frequently used. Themes of morality and responsibility or their opposites, immorality and irresponsibile licentiousness, are common. The temptress siren Mami Wata is another favored theme. Chéri Samba and Moke are masters of this art form at home and abroad, but there are many practitioners in Kinshasa.
Turine, Roger-Pierre. Les arts du Congo: d'hier à nos jours. Bruxelles: Renaissance du livre, 2007. 199pp. Illus. (color), bibl. refs. (p. 198). N7399.C6T87 2007 AFA. OCLC 173654331
Roger-Pierre Turine introduces us to a whole new generation of Congolese artists in this book, while paying homage to their predecessors and precursors. From the colonial era artists and ateliers to the self-taught and “beaux arts” artists, whose stories are known, Turine turns his attention to the new emerging artists, many of whom are breaking away from painting into new media - - photography and film, conceptual art, installations and performance. Although several of these Congolese artists are now living in Europe, such as Aimé Mpane and Michèle Magema, there are today lively art scenes in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. Several recent collectives have coalesced: Librisme Synergie, Vicanos club and Les Eza Possibles. Since the 1990s a revolt of sorts occurred against the staid and conservative teaching at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Kinshasa. Half of this survey is devoted to this rejuvenation and renaissance of Congolese art. Amply illustrated.
Critiqued by Virginie Andriamirado in Festivals et biennales d'Afrique: machine ou utopie? (Paris: Harmattan, 2008) pages 218-223.
Vellut, Jean-Luc. "La peinture du Congo-Zaïre et la recherche de l'Afrique innocente: présentation du livre de J. A. Cornet, R. De Cnodder, I. Dierickx & W. Toebosch: 60 ans de peinture au Zaïre. Bulletin des séances - Académie royale des sciences d'outre-mer (Bruxelles) 36 (4): 633-659, 1990 [published 1991]. bibl. refs. VF -- Artists - Congo (Democratic Republic)
Vellut discusses at length how this book came to be written by the four collaborators, the archival sources used, in short, the story behind the story. At the same time, he presents the main themes of the book and how modern art evolved in the Belgian Congo within the context of the attitudes and agendas prevailing during the colonial period and beyond. In particular he re-examines the "discovery" of Albert Lubaki and Tshyela Ntendu by Georges Thiry and Gaston Denys Périer and how these artists came to be exhibited in Europe in the 1930s. He also considers "popular painting" in Zaire in recent decades.