Horror and hope: paintings from Zaïre

An exhibition from a few years ago gathered rarely seen works by leading Congolese artist Tshibumba Kanda-Matulu, who depicted the country’s brutal colonial past, the fight for independence and later struggles for power.

Colonie Belge II
The Zaïre School of popular painting, a movement that gained popularity during the 1960s and 1970s, had a significant influence on the wider context of African art
Photograph: Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery
Colonie Belge 1885–1959
The group of mostly self-taught artists introduced the use of bold colour and text on canvas, to make pointed political statements particularly about the burden of Zaïre’s (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) colonial past
Photograph: Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery
Mobutu Sese Seko
Using techniques of poster painting, street art and advertising signage in their work, a style that has now been embraced by many contemporary artists from across the continent, the Zaire School were clear that their paintings were for local people
Photograph: gallery
Le 30 juin 1960, Zaïre indépendant
Tshibumba Kanda-Matulu was one of the pre-eminent painters of this school. Here, he depicts one of the leaders of the Congolese independence struggle, Patrice Lumumba, giving his famous 30 June 1960 speech, condemning the colonial powers
Photograph: Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery
Manifestation des Etudiants à Lubumbashi
(Students protest in Lubumbashi)Born in 1947 in Élisabethville (now Lubumbashi), Kanda-Matulu began painting in the 1960s. He became the main figure of the artistic movement that dealt boldly with the themes of ancestral origins, colonial history, the fight for independence, and post-colonial struggles for power
Photograph: gallery
GécaMines II
The gécamines factory and its slagheap became a symbol of the country’s exploitation by western powers. Located in Lubumbashi, it once dominated the local landscape and became a powerful symbol of the excesses of colonialism for many of the painters of the period
Photograph: T. Kalema/Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery

Source: The Guardian

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