CONGO BEAUTY // Congolese Art at the Cartier Foundation

We visited a superb exhibition last Sunday, one that puts the Congo and its most talented artists in the spotlight: Congo Beauty. Open until November 15.

A mixture of music, photographs, frescoes, paintings and sculptures, Congo Beauty reveals what is most magical in Congolese culture: its interpretation of political events, its offbeat but exact humor, its reveries, its warmth, its colors, its animals and its joy.

Everything is reflected in the works exhibited, which deal with sensitive topics like corruption or a geopolitical vision of the interior, but also topics like malaria. Please note this show is not a hymn to a DRC now overtaken by events but a real turning back to look at almost a century of the artistic history of a Congo that was still Belgian until the 60s, and at its evolution up to the present day.

During your visit, it is possible that the first part of the Congo Beauty exhibition on the ground floor might seem slightly heavier than the second part, located in the basement. The first part is indeed dedicated to economic, political and social issues, present or past. The artists show some humor and approach these topics with freedom and without taboo. The paintings here are figurative and brilliant.

Chéri Samba // Oui, il faut réfléchir, 2014 // © André Morin

Chéri Samba // Amour & Pastèque, 1984 // © Florian Kleinefenn

In the basement, the second part addresses the lifestyle of Congolese people, photographed notably by Jean Depara and Ambroise Ngaimoko, where music, dance and singing take center stage. Here you can also rediscover the world of SAPE (the Society of Poseurs and Elegant People).

Kiripi Katembo // Tenir // Série Un regard, 2011

Jean Depara, Sans titre, c.1955-1965

Studio 3Z

The installations conceived by the visual artists Body Isek Kingelez and Rigobert Nimi take you to futuristic cities in the style of Las Vegas that almost make you want to dive in to them.


You will also discover the poetic works of contemporary young Congolese talent from the Elizabethville School and the first recognized works of Albert Lubaki, Djilatendo, and Antoinette.

Sylvestre Kaballa // Sans titre // c. 1950

Djilatendo // Sans titre // c. 1930

We recommend Congo Beauty to young and old. The more so because, if the weather is good, a walk or a picnic in the garden of the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art is always a pleasure.

Information: 261 Boulevard Raspail, 75014 Paris. Hours: Monday to Sunday from 11h to 20h.

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