Like in many African countries, the contemporary art scene in the Democratic Republic of the Congo faces a dilemma with regard to how it is represented abroad. For decades, the global art market has defined Congolese art as “peinture populaire”. After the 1960s, the aesthetics of this specific popular painting style diverged from the academic, idealised style of the colonial period (1885 – 1960), and has since produced a small number of internationally acclaimed Congolese artists, the best-known of whom is Chéri Samba (*1956).
The exhibition “Congo Stars” by the Kunsthalle Tübingen in cooperation with the artists‘ collective PICHA in Lubumbashi and the Kunsthalle Graz aims to broaden this view and present the wealth, functions and lines of tradition of locally oriented popular painting in the Congo from the 1960s to the present. The exhibition features works collected by the famous Canadian historian and African Studies scholar Bogumil Jewsiewicki, which went on display at the Musée Royale de l'Afrique Centrale in Tervuren in 2013. The collection offers a far more comprehensive image of Congolese painting than is normally the case on the international art market.
In the exhibition the Kunsthalle Tübingen presents locally oriented and internationally successful popular Congolese painting, and compares it to contemporary pop art in other media. Arranged according to thematic areas and recurring motifs, the exhibition sheds light on the changing social and political circumstances and offer insights into today’s popular art trends. It also examines the state of popular art in the Congo today and what international markets and exhibitions regard as popular art from the Congo.
In cooperation with PICHA in Lubumbashi, the project organisers will invite Congolese artists to participate in a residency programme in Tübingen where they will have the opportunity to develop their artworks. Following its presentation at the Kunsthaus Graz in 2018, the exhibition will be shown in Tübingen in 2019.
Artistic director: Holger Kube Ventura (DE)
Curators: Sammy Baloji (CD), Christine Biuard (BE), Bambi Ceuppens (BE), Holger Kube Ventura (DE), Barbara Steiner (AT)
Participating artists: Joseph lbongo (CD), Eddy Kamwanga (CD), Jean Kemba (CD)
23.9.2018 - 20.1.2019, Kunsthaus Graz
Summer 2019, Kunsthalle Tübingen