congolese artists

Zaire 74 - The African Artists review: ‘Superb sets from huge stars’

International eyes turned to Zaire (now Congo) in 1974 for the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, dubbed The Rumble in the Jungle.

It was preceded by a three-day music festival featuring American (James Brown, B.B. King) and Congolese artists.

These two CDs include superb sets from Congolese artists then at the height of their powers.

They include guitar kings Tabu Ley Rochereau, Franco and female vocalist Abeti Masekini — all huge stars in Kinshasa at that time.

Also present was South African Miriam Makeba, then in exile in Guinea.



On the art of survival — and survivors

Sandra Uwiringiyimana, a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, survived a massacre in 2004. In this interview for #YouthWill, she shares her experience in finding solace, confidence and her voice through the arts, especially music and photography.


The impact of Congolese Masks on Picasso

Picasso came in contact with the work of African artists at around 1905. This new form of art stimulated a great interest in him since it was different from what he was exposed to in the West. He was particularly fascinated with African Masks. After the great discovery he wrote:

“I have experienced my greatest artistic emotions, when I suddenly discovered the sublime beauty of sculptures executed by the anonymous artists from Africa. These passionate and rigorously logical religious works are what the human imagination has produced as most potent and most beautiful… At that moment, I realized what painting was all about!” 

Picasso was above all taken by the elements and principles of design applied on the masks in addition to the emotions that they transmitted. Captured by the power of these new forms, he begins to apply them into the preliminary sketches for Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon, from which originated Modern Art and the Cubist Movement.

The mask worn by the woman in the bottom right corner of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is based on the Mbuya (sickness) Mask, created by the Pende of the D.R Congo, as revealed by art experts. It is noticeable that Picasso painted an unadulterated reflexion of this mask. All facial distortions and expressions created by the Congolese artist have been retained and faithfully reproduced. Interestingly, facial distortions and emotional expressions are what constitute the quintessential elements in both Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and the Mbuya Mask. [text: beautiesofafrique:]

Congolese artist: Bodys Isek Kingelez

Bodys Isek Kingelez or Jean Baptiste (1948 to March 14, 2015) was a sculptor and artist from the Democratic Republic of Congo, mostly known for his models of fantastic cities made of cardboard. His work has been presented in numerous exhibitions in Europe and North America, including exhibitions at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at the documenta XI in Kassel. Kingelez was born as Jean Baptiste in 1948 in Kimbembele-Ihunga in what was then the Belgian Congo. After graduating from secondary school he moved to Kinshasa in 1970. Until 1977 he studied part-time and supported himself by teaching at a school and by working as a restorer of tribal masks at the National Museum in Kinshasa. At the same time he began to create some of his first art works. Since 1985 he has dedicated himself entirely to his art. source

Kingelez in 2003 by Dirk Dumon

Some of his work…

Kinshasa la Belle (1991)

Kimbembele Ihunga (1994)


New Manhattan City  2001-2002

Kinshasa du troisième millénaire réalisé en 1997

Ville Fantôme, 1996