My painting is concerned with people's lives... I want to change our mentality that keeps us isolated from the world. I appeal to people's consciences. Artists must make people think. -- Cheri Samba
Jack Bell Gallery is pleased to present a group exhibition of contemporary painting from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The show brings together eight artists most of whom live and work in Kinshasa. Emerging Art from Kinshasa reflects the capital's lively artistic scene, which has had a place in the international art market since the seminal exhibition 'Magiciens de la Terre' in 1989. Set up by Jean-Hubert Martin at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the exhibition was truly groundbreaking in its global perspective. All created within the last 10 years, these recent works provide an overview of new developments in one of the 20th century's most vibrant schools of popular painting.
The show includes the work of internationally renowned artist Pierre Bodo (born 1953) – one of the founders and key proponents with Moke and Cheri Samba of what has come to be known as the Zaire School of Painting. The exhibition also includes the works of several young emerging artists, such as Amani Bodo (born 1988) and Kura Shomali (born 1979). The paintings reveal a strong link between art and life – a perception of the social, political, economic and cultural realities of present day Congo.
Artists such as Pierre Bodo, Amani Bodo and Bodo Fils reflect on cultural incongruities and understandings of nationhood. Their hybrid constructs question the meaning of intercultural dialogue – the supposed dichotomy between the 'exotic' continent and 'civilised' Europe. Prince Maory presents a range of architectural landscapes and urban utopias borrowing from both comic and commercial art. His paintings depict the city as a place of both freedom and failure. Similarly, Ange Kumbi and Moke Fils adopt the conventions of billboard and advertising art. Street scenes, bars, and classroom antics all make their way into the vivid and animated compositions. Shomali recycles and transforms urban refuse in his mixed- media works to create new chaotic forms. Monsengo Shula uses the body to engage with art, gender and sexuality. All of the artists in the exhibition take an interest in the capacity of painting to critique, to sensitise and educate. 'Painting is useful', Shula says, 'because we can speak in the highest of forms about the lowest of things'.