In 2004, the Fondation Cartier offered its most memorable independent exhibition in France. Since then, Chéri Samba work has ventured to the four corners of the world and has been remembered by the world’s most esteemed collections and institutions. 18 years later, the Galerie Magnin-A is dedicating to this emblematic artist of the contemporary scene the first coordinated exhibition in a Parisian gallery.
From September 17 to October 23, 2022, the exhibition “Stupéfaction” will present some fifteen never or rarely shown paintings by Chéri Samba, created somewhere between 1983 and 2022.
Among the works on display is the memorable work addressed to M’Pongo Love, the great lady of Congolese music, but also this moving self-representation of 2022 entitled « La vieillesse d’un homme sans pêché ».
A passer of messages and ethics, staging himself in front of an audience, Chéri Samba produces works in which he welcomes the visitor to make him enter into imperative, enchanting, entertaining, beautiful stories, but also concerned with African and human issues.
His artistic creations are exact, as he invests a lot of energy in them and paints only twelve paintings per year in order to convey his own justification. For Chéri Samba, art has no limits. As an expert of the famous Congolese painting and as a contemporary artist who is perceived worldwide, he deals with a wide range of subjects, such as ethics, daily existence, worldly figures, but also the historical backdrop of the invoice, sexuality, social imbalances or defilement.
The combative painter attracts and captures the eye with striking tones. The texts inscribed on his works, sometimes zany and often philosophical, incite reflection and questioning, while hoping to stir up small voices on the subject matter.
Born in Kinto M’Vuila, in the Republic of Congo, where he lives and works, Chéri Samba has been copying humorous comics since he was young. Aware of the results of his drawings, rather than follow his father’s trade as a blacksmith, he left school and moved to Kinshasa in 1972.
He initially struggled to find a new line of work, and ended up working for Mbuta-Masunda, a painter of advertising signs, who employed him on the condition that he pass two assessments: a pencil reproduction of a photo and a calligraphic work in Gothic letters. Having never heard of the word, he drew letters of his own development, which he liked immensely and guaranteed him the job. He then worked for the newspaper “Bilenge info” and later settled on the Kasa-Vubu and Burma roadsides in the Ngiri area.
His artworks are consistently painted in a rich chromatic range, clear, differentiated and mostly glittery as if to make the subject light. Whatever his message, Chéri Samba believes that the viewer should enter his compositions without apprehension.
In 1975, he made his most memorable self-portrait, and in 1985, he chose to make himself the usual subject of his creations, so that his name as well as his face could be perceived.