Chéri Samba (Democratic Republic of Congo, born 1956) J'aime la couleur

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Lot 123
Chéri Samba
(Democratic Republic of Congo, born 1956)
J'aime la couleur

Sold for £ 43,812 (US$ 52,516) inc. premium
Chéri Samba (Democratic Republic of Congo, born 1956)
J'aime la couleur
signed and dated 'Cheri Samba/ 2003' (lower right)
acrylic on canvas
81 x 100cm (31 7/8 x 39 3/8in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    A private collection, Brussels.

    Chéri Samba left his home village of Kinto M'Vuila in 1972 aged 16. He travelled to Kinshasa where he was employed as a draughtsman for an advertising agency. Billboards across the city sported works by self-taught artists such as Bodo, Mass, Cherin and Moke. These painters greatly influenced the young Samba. However, he soon differentiated himself by incorporating text in his work. He later described this as the 'Samba signature':

    "I had noticed that people in the street would walk by paintings, glance at them and keep going. I thought that if I added a bit of text, people would have to stop and take time to read it, to get more into the painting and admire it."

    Samba prefers to work on a large scale in vivid colours. It is important to the artist that his works are impressive and can be easily seen from a distance. He began to incorporate glitter in the late 1980s for this very reason. This harks back to his training as a sign-painter, but also suggests his desire to create 'popular' pictures. For Samba, art should be enjoyable for all, not only the knowledgable. The artist draws inspiration from everyday life in Kinshasa; the people, the fashions, the politics. He continues to retain a studio in the city despite having become an international name.

    Samba frequently depicts himself in his works. He claims that art is inherently autobiographical:

    "Whether or not the subject of the paintings involves me directly, I still prefer to appear in them. Why should I put someone else's face instead of my own when I'm the one painting, they're my ideas and I'm the one deciding on the subject and comments?"

    In J'aime la couleur the artist's head is portrayed as a winding spiral against a bright blue sky. He holds a dripping paintbrush between his teeth. The work is an expression of how Samba experiences the world:

    "Colour is everywhere. To me, colour is life. Our heads must twirl around as if in a spiral to realise that everything around us is nothing but colours. So I say 'I like colour' instead of saying 'I like painting'. Colour is the universe, the universe is life, painting is life."

    Bibliography
    A. Magnin (ed.), J'aime Cheri Samba, exh. cat., (Paris, 2004) pp.15, 30 & 126.
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