top of page
  • pe2s-isgi

90 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art in the Congo (Summary)

M. Andre Magnin

The Beauté Congo - 1926-2015 - Congo Kitoko exhibition is the result of both chance and necessity. It reflects the encounters between Congolese and Europeans and aims to showcase the artistic output of the Congo over a span of nine decades. The exhibition highlights numerous masterful but often unknown works that testify to the artistic passion of the Congo. My journey began in 1986 when I embarked on artistic research in non-Western cultures, ultimately leading to the vibrant art scene of Kinshasa. The "popular" artists of Kinshasa, originally advertising painters and decorators, established their studios on busy streets to create artworks depicting everyday Congolese life. These artists gained notoriety in Kinshasa and produced an array of captivating and humorous works that reflected the endurance of society amidst the city's challenges. The exhibition also introduces the forgotten traces of the first age of Congolese modern art from the late 1920s, represented by artists like Albert Lubaki and Djilatendo. The story continues with the Hangar artists, who, under the guidance of French sailor and painter Pierre Romain-Desfossés, created powerful and prolific works that captured their environment and traditions with an intense poetic gesture. The Kinshasa Academy of Fine Arts, founded in 1943, played a crucial role in nurturing a generation of artists committed to experimentation and critical reflection. Art movements such as the Yebela collective and the Eza Possibles collective emerged, emphasizing art's connection to life, culture, and politics. My mission was to share the passion for Congolese art with the Western public, revealing the vibrant living art of the country. The exhibition tells the story of a ninety-year history of Congolese art, from the Lubaki era to the Hangar era, the popular artists, and contemporary artists. The final ambition is to allow audiences to experience the art through their own perspectives, as Congolese art belongs solely to itself and invites viewers to have their unique journey of discovery. The exhibition is a celebration of modern Congolese art and its journey through the ages.

April 2015

Source: Beauté Congo - 1926-2015 - Congo Kitoko catalog


bottom of page