Persona January, 11th 2024 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 448 - Fransix Tenda Lomba

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 448 – Fransix Tenda Lomba:
‘Le choc est là’
I saw the Mobembo exhibition in Galerie Fleur in Wouter with a variety of works by the artist Fransix Tenda Lomba. Fransix is originally from Congo, but now lives in the IJburg district of Amsterdam.
At the exhibition he told more about the background of his works. He did this in English, unusual for an artist from a country where the second language is French. He had mastered English by watching a lot of English-language series on television and also by conversing with his fellow students at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam.

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A soldier and a king
Mobembo means travel, journey, pilgrimage in Lingala, the language spoken in the northwest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including capital Kinshasa, with a population of 16 million people. And Fransix has certainly traveled. Not only can Kinshasa come to Amsterdam, but also various artist residencies and places where exhibitions of his work have been held.

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I am visiting Fransix in his studio in Broedplaats Brug, on the northwestern tip of IJburg, which is completely surrounded by water. It is a large room on the first floor.
I see a large work hanging on the wall that he is still working on, a large work in the project ‘Le choc est là’. On the left we see a soldier and an elephant, the soldier looks very much like a Spanish conquistador and on the right a King from Africa. To the left of the king we see the blades of a mill and stars. In September 2024 he will exhibit the work, together with six other large works,an installation and drawings in another gallery, Gallery Eenwerk , under the title ‘Economic Shock’.
Fransix: “I had to think for one or two months before I could start this painting. I read a lot about chocolate, read books, sat in libraries, talked to experts in Rijksakademie. All that information was necessary to have the right feeling to begin this work.”

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The chocolate chain
The chocolate comes from plantations in various countries in Africa and South America. “In Africa, including from Congo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria. The chocolate represents many topics / products in the world. People have to live and dedicate their labor to growing the product and then harvesting it. This happens in a system that has colonial origins.”
The mill represents the Dutch mill and the stars represent the European flags. The King has blue lines along his arms and body, which is related to the transport by water at the time.
Amsterdam is one of the most important places in the long chain that the cocoa bean undergoes until it can be sold as edible chocolate. “It is a port city, where boats used to arrive with bags full of chocolate to be processed in cocoa factories. Nowadays transport takes place by plane. Processing takes place not only in the Netherlands, but also in other countries, for example Belgium and Switzerland.”

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Aluminum cans on a stick
Another part of the exhibition in Galerie Fleur and Wouter were the dented aluminum cans on a wooden stick that were painted with faces, among other things. He made them about ten years ago.
After the Art School in Kinshasa and then the Academie des Beaux Art, part of the University in the same place, Fransix decided to spend four years on a search in the real world. He said goodbye to the canvas and went to neighborhoods and communities. He participated in mural projects, among others. All this time he was a participant and important artist of Kin-ArtStudio, an important gallery in Kinshsha, since graduating from the Academy, and through Kin-Art he also joined the Rijksakademie in the Netherlands.

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During the period when he went into the neighborhoods, he discovered aluminum cans everywhere containing various food products. He cleaned them, dented them carefully and then painted them. He used oil paint, now also acrylic and a resin layer for protection. He showed them at the Dakar Art Biennale, where he sold four.
“The bad situation in Congo was an inspiration for these works. There was/is a lot of war with physical violation. That caused bad feelings and anguish, lots of anger for people. That war mainly takes place in Eastern Congo, especially because of the rich raw materials in the soil, such as coltan, cobalt, iron, copper, tin, lead, but also precious metals gold, silver and platinum.”
“The right response is not to cry about what is happening there, but to choose a good strategy, the strategy that I have developed, in ‘Le choc est là’.”

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School reports
In addition, the exhibition featured drawings from the ‘Our School’ series, with painted school reports. All figures had a food pot on their heads.
Fransix’s mother was head of the elementary school and he also got lessons from her. His mother was strict at school, but otherwise very affectionate, he says. “She gave me a lot of good feeling, books, research, and knowledge. She encouraged me in my artistry.” His father was sad about this, it’s not a job for a living, he thought. His father wrote about politics and culture and even appeared on television. “We looked at it with amazement ‘How is that possible? Magical! Our father on television!’”

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The food pots are reminiscent of the Moroccan tagine pots, he writes it down for me: mbabola, for rechaud cooking with a good opening to let the heat escape.
After not working on canvas for many, many years, he started painting on canvas again, but now with many richer experiences of Congolese life. And he had learned to talk about his art, advice from his mother that he looks back on fondly.

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Child nr. six
Fransix is called that because he is child number 6. “My father has 7 children. His name was François Lomba Tenda, and Simon Tenda Lomba is the name of my grandfather. He was a doctor, in the period before, during and after WWII. I have his documents. I will one day use that for my work. He was very rich, had plantations with many livestock in Isangila in the central Congo region. ”
Fransix participated in group- and solo exhibitions in many places: for example Limousin, France, Cologne, Germany, Bayreuth, Germany, Douala, Cameroon, Harare, Zimbabwe, New York, USA, Brussels, Belgium and Art Residencies in Marrakech, Morocco and New York, USA. In a few months he will move to art residency Jardin Rouge in Marrakech and in Basel, where he has been before.

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Finally, what is his philosophy?
“I am staying here in a breeding ground called De Brug, in English The Bridge. I would like to help create a bridge between here and there. For example, to further familiarize myself with the culture here, by helping African students here and by encouraging Dutch/European students to realize a residency/stay in Congo.
I also want to use my archive artistically in the coming years, it is a rich archive, partly from my family and partly an archive of a general cultural, economic and political nature.”

1) End of Year Report III, 2023, mixed media on paper, 41 x 30,5 cm, 2) End of Year Report IV, 2023, mixed media on paper, 41 x 30,5 cm, 3) End of Year Report II, 2023, mixed media on paper, 41 x 30,5 cm, 4) End of Year Report I, 2023, mixed media on paper, 41 x 30,5 cm, 5) Behind the scenes variable Oil Painting on Aluminum 2017, 6) portrait photo Fransix, 7) Cans on a stick, 8) Kingship, 2022, acrylics, print, canvas, 60 x 80 cm, 9) Can on a stick, 10) ) Joint Power, 2023, acrylic paint and print on canvas, 200 x 140 cm

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