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Kinshasa is known for being the home of one of the most famous artists of the African continent: Cherie Samba. His works – whose themes are deliberately immediate and referable to local and international news – have been exhibited and sold all over the world. Also the artist Freddy Tsimba plays a primary role in the artistic scene of the territory. Famous for his sculptures created from spoons, he seeks to transcend the pain of crimes committed by honoring the memory of the dead and recalling the power of life.
But Kinshasa is not only the city of famous single artists, it is a creative forge made up of people and spaces who want to believe in the artistic skills of the place. The Kin ArtStudio is an independent and not profit, art organization that encourages creation in the field of visual arts and other forms of contemporary expression, fostering exchanges with other artists and art initiatives throughout the world, strengthening young Congolese artists’ capacities, and professionalising the practice.
Kinshasa is the common ground in which the artists work and take inspiration from. Through his work Alexandre Kyungu questions the city and the mapping of the city, to erase the boundaries between peoples, and give birth to a single territory in the imaginary space of his work. Huston Maludi on the other hand maps out psychological cartographies of life in Kinshasa that take shape of intricate, monochromatic line paintings and drawings.
Other artists as JC Lofenia, JP Mika and Pathy Tshindele instead tend to focus on social issues of the present: local politics and economics, but also manners and lifestyle of people in direct response to the monolithic oppression of race, nationality or gender.
Well known for these issues is without a doubt Eddy Kamuanga, who explores the changes in the perception of the identity of the DRC from colonialism to today in the economic, political and social sphere.
Shula Monsengo lives the role of the artist as the vector of awareness of the questionable sides of the society. He thinks that the artists, through their art need to be critical, condemn political unfairness and educate the population. He declares: ”Painters are useful because they say out loud what others think to themselves”.
This is just a taste of what Kinshasa has to offer to those who want to venture out on its streets. Lose yourself among the profiles and colors of the artists of Kinshasa.