'La Rue Lokolela Kinshasa' by Ange Kumbi (circa 1990s)
'La Rue Lokolela Kinshasa', oil on board, by Ange Kumbi (circa 1990s). Over the last decade, there has been a growing interest in African contemporary art in Europe and the United States, as witnessed by the numerous international exhibitions and art biennales showcasing contemporary African art. The driving force behind this interest is a desire to draw a different, more complex and nuanced picture of Africa than that portrayed by the media in general. With his art depicting scenes of everyday life in the Congo where he grew up, Ange Kumbi is recognised as a painter whose works tell the stories of his country in visual form. Kumbi was born in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in the 1950s. As a keen observer of life, Kumbi's painting here portrays people on the rue Lokolela in Kinshasa interacting with others or going about their business. The inclusion of the white-robed clergyman in front of his brick church in the painting is intentional. In the colonial era of the 19th and early 20th centuries in particular, missionaries from numerous countries in Europe traveled to countries like Congo and started to build religious infrastructures of churches, schools, and hospitals. And while many presented their work in humanitarian terms of educating local populations or assisting with disaster relief, in practice it often meant leading people away from their indigenous spiritual practices and facilitating colonial regimes in their takeover of land. Kenya’s first post-colonial president, Jomo Kenyatta, described the activities of British missionaries in his country this way: “When the missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the missionaries had the Bible. They taught us how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.”
With that as backdrop, the inhabitants depicted show their lives to be communal, friendly and neighbourly. Unfortunately, this contrasts sharply with the reality in the country where conflict, political repression and instability have reigned since it achieved independence in 1960. Keenly aware of this dichotomy, the artist has chosen to focus on the good in his country and that clearly is the people like those in this insightful portrayal. The artwork is in good overall condition having recently undergone a reconditioning by an art restoration professional. The painting does have some rough edges on its board near the frame, however, the main image remains colourful, lively and stabilised. The artist's signature appears in the lower right hand while placing the work on rue Lokolela in Kinshasa. The painting is newly framed in a tray. Please enjoy the many photos accompanying this listing. Upon request a video will be provided. This gallery holds a total of three paintings by Ange Kumbi (including this one) - please enquire on this platform for more information.
About the Artist: Born in Kinshasa in 1954, Ange Kumbi is one of the most significant emissaries of Congolese Popular Art. He has the same narrative style as Cheri Samba, with whom he worked in the mid 70s in Kinshasa when they were both students in the workshop of the well-known publicist Mbuta Masunda. His paintings have centred round the everyday life of the Congolese living out their lives in the African cultural metropolis that is Kinshasa; scenes of street life, of lavers, of shady transactions, corruption, fraud, and crimes of politicians and their foreign accomplices. In its heyday the city was known as Kin La Belle - Kinshasa the Beautiful. Decades of turmoil in the country, brought on by dictatorships, civil wars and corruption, have given the Congolese painters reason to paint with force. Ange Kumbi's work is humorous, satirical and moving. Most recently his paintings have incorporated a dreamlike surreal quality - the paintings are the essence of the collective memory of the people. Ange Kumbi has been exhibiting since 1987 and has exhibited, amongst others, in Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Vienna and the USA. He lived and worked in Kinshasa till 2003. Ange Kumbi now lives in exile in Erlangen, Germany. (Ref: 'Contemporary Art from Africa 2008 - 2009', by Thorup Tine & Sam Cuong)
Dimensions with frame:
H 47.5 cm / 18.7"
W 55.5 cm / 21.9"
Dimensions without frame:
H 44.5 cm / 17.5"
W 52.5 cm / 20.7"