The bustling and vibrant Kinshasa: source of inspiration for artists

©Clément Bonnerot

Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC and the largest city in the country, is also the third most populous city in Africa, with estimates varying between 13 and 17 million inhabitants.

Kinshasa is the economic, political and cultural heart of the country, and the headquarters of important international institutions. A capital of many faces, a globalized megalopolis-village, it is undeniably a city of contrasts, multicultural in essence, with representatives of 450 Congolese ethnic groups, but also a historic home for many foreign communities.

Kinshasa is a paradoxical megalopolis. The city is plagued by poverty although the country is extremely rich in ores. Despite everything, the desire to live, the dynamism of local cultures and the living manifestation of artistic and cultural expressions forge the character of the Kinshasa people.

In his documentary: System K” like Kinshasa, the French director Renaud Barret meets eight artists, impressive in their resilience. They are sculptors, painters, visual artists, musicians, create scenographies with their bodies, and work with recycled materials and urban waste. They do not exhibit or perform their performances in closed places. Their preferred scene is the street, and their audience comes from it.

Focus on artists who deliver their interpretation, sometimes dark, sometimes joyful, of a city where art is being invented on every street corner.

The art of creation

A collective of “sapeur-performers”, Les justiciers de la sape, design and produce their own clothes, drawing inspiration from Japanese trends such as Yoji Yamamoto and Kenzo. They pay tribute here to the late musician Papa Wamba “the prince of the sape” by reproducing some of his most emblematic stage poses.

Les Justiciers de la sape © Renaud Barret

Ecological art

Many African artists are committed to societal causes and their artistic approach aims to raise awareness of environmental, political and social challenges. They are committed to showing the reality of current societies.

Emmanuel Botalatala, a 60-year-old Congolese artist, self-proclaimed ‘Minister of Waste Bins’, creates works of art from waste that he collects, sculpts and integrates into compositions glued on panels of wood or cardboard painted with her hand. He helplessly observed the degraded situation of Kinshasa, an open-air trash city, where everything was thrown on the ground, without discernment or conscience.

His difficult journey and which deserves our respect run to a documentary “The Minister of Garbage”.

Eddy Ekete is a visual artist who works in several artistic fields: painting, sculpture and performance. He always confronts his artistic approach with the urban environment. His work is thus full of anthropological observations. He always strives to create his work as a mirror to the world around him.

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Engaged art

Freddy Tsimba is an artist-sculptor born in Kinshasa in 1967. He finished his studies at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Kinshasa, graduating inmonumental sculpture in 1989 and has worked in bronze and cement ever since.His notoriety was built through more than fifty exhibitions in Africa, Europe, Canada and China. He has obtained numerous prizes and distinctions in France and Canada.

Throughout his work, he denounces the tragedies caused by war. Freddy Tsimba notably creates monumental street installations with materials from conflicts, such as casings and machetes.

“My real school, even though I studied Fine Arts in Kinshasa, is the street where I get plenty of supplies. My masters were the blacksmiths from whom I learned the technique of fire and welding for 5 years .

Scissors woman

The art of resourcefulness

Dareck Tubazaya humorously and realistically evokes the “resourcefulness” of the Kinshasa people, notably with the photograph of an old current meter with multiple intersecting wires entitled Benda current, an expression in Lingala which designates the art of diverting electricity.

Boms Liteli, member of the KOKOKO collective! is an instrument designer. In his open-air workshop, he produces unique pieces that he empirically electrifies to invent original electronic music that is exported today on the international scene.

Introspective art

Géraldine Tobé was born in Kinshasa in 1992. She studied at the Institute of Fine Arts in Kinshasa, the city where she still lives and works. She uses fire, the source of childish wounds and terrors, to create introspective art. Indeed, she is part of this generation of children accused of witchcraft and victims of exorcism attempts by the pastors of Kinshasa.

Geraldine Tobé creates her paintings with the soot and smoke of candles and kerosene lamps.

Promotion de l’Art Africain