Persona September, 23rd 2021 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 333 - Chéri Chérin

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 333 – Chéri Chérin
Chéri Chérin is one of the most important representatives of contemporary Congolese popular painting. He paints in a flamboyant and dramatic style. It is about human ingenuity, power and everyday life in Kinshasa. Cherin’s real name is Joseph Kinkonda. He was born on February 16, 1955 in Leopoldville, now called Kinshasa.

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He works like a chronicler. He describes facts and exposes abuses. Among other things, by playing with propaganda images and subtly undermining them.

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Association of atmosphere makers and elegant people
Chérin studies in 1977 at the Académie des Beaux Arts in Kinshasa with the Austrian ceramic artist Peter Weihs.

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As a student, he starts painting posters in his residential area of Ndjili. They appear on the walls of bars, hairdressers and small boutiques, and he also designs advertisements.At that time, in the late 1970s, Kinshasa’s cultural life begins to sparkle. Papa Wemba leads the music group ‘Viva la Musica’.

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A member of this group, Kester Emeneya, invented the concept of SAPE, the ‘société des ambianceurs et des personnes élégantes’ (the association of atmosphere makers and elegant people). Everywhere in Kinshasa you see ‘sapeurs’ walking around, men (and women) who stroll through the streets like a dandy, a bit after the example of the Belgian colonial ladies and gentlemen.

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L’art partout
In 1978, the exhibition L’art partout (Art Everywhere) draws attention to a group of young artists who come to dominate the painting scene in Kinshasa. Important names are Chéri Samba (see elsewhere on the site), Moke and Bodo, and Chérin is added. He is more attracted to their art than to what he learned at the Académie des Beaux Arts in Kinshasa. The École de peinture Populaire du Zaire (the Zaire School of Public Art) is becoming a household name, also internationally.

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Although Chérin’s work seems somewhat caricatured and exaggerated, it is at the same time representative. They are sharp observations, full of humor. All kinds of human relationships are depicted in his full, energetic and narrative compositions. His dominant theme is politics – the corruption and the dimension of violence.

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The essential life of man
With appealing works he wants to analyze the mechanisms of a society in decline and at the same time take up a moral counter position: ‘We artists penetrate the depths of people in order to portray their essential being’.

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In addition to Kinshasa, Chérin has exhibitions in Turnhout, Brussels, Linz, The Hague, Dakar, Tokyo, Vienna, Paris and New York. He is 66 and he still paints as if he were a young man, with just as much pleasure.

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1) Prison des obligations, 2008, 2) L’Esclavagisme, 2006, 3) Parties Pourritiques, 2011, 4) Les Nouveaus Maitres du Monde, 2008, 5) Monde en Effervessence, 2003, 6) Kinoiseries, 2004, 7) L’unification de la haute cour pour sauvegarder la nature, 2021, 8) Sans Emploi, 2017, 9) Que nous reserve l’avenir, 2019, 10 portrait Chéri Chérin

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