If you are in Paris between now and the 10th of January, please check out this amazing art exhibit, “Beauté Congo–1926 – 2015–Congo Kitoko.”
I had been seeing ads for this exhibit in many metro posters and I was excited to see what it was all about. I grabbed my friend Amanda and today we met up at the Fondation Cartier, a contemporary art museum. As people under 25, we got in for just 7 euros.
Often when we think of African art, we think of the antiquated masks and sculptures you find in Western museums displaying their colonial spoils or the seaside artisans catering to tourists who want to bring back a piece of ‘Africa.’ Seldom do we talk about the avant-garde artists coming from the continent and the artists capturing the essence of everyday life in their paintings, photographs and music.
This exhibit at Fondation Cartier brought that all together in a seamless and beautifully presented way. The exhibit spanned the space of several show rooms, all of them open and easily connected to one another.
The first room held several artists, from cartoonists to large multimedia and abstract pieces. The following were bright colorful paintings, many of which rang of the 70s, but some that were done quite recently. Many of the paintings were thought provoking and even a bit jarring, such as those by Chéri Samba. It was definitely my favorite part of the exhibit.
But downstairs also held some truly amazing pieces. There were three sculptures that were meant to be the cities of tomorrow and those looked amazing. There were also photographs by Jean Depara capturing life in Kinshasha, Congo in the 50s and Amanda and I wanted to take the photos home with us.
Upstairs was the book shop of the museum. I walked away with a poster that depicted the painting that they had been using to advertise the exhibit. It’s just so eye-catching and I hope that my purchase goes to support the artist, JP Mika.
In addition, it is important for me to keep the memory of this exhibit in mind. As we talk about the development of Africa and as I encourage people to see the beauty that Africa has to offer, it is important to continually keep the arts in mind. Art is the way people, cultures and nations express themselves to each other and to the world. It is the heart of our intellectual prowess. It nourishes our souls and inspires our minds.
Art like this tells the little known story of African artists representing their cultures and displaying their minds in contemporary and edgy ways. Better yet, if focuses on a particular country within Africa, reminding us about the richness, complexity and diversity of cultures, art and artists that come from the continent.
What exhibits have you been to lately that really had you thinking and you believe are a must-see?