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Congo’s Artists Struggle for Recognition

2018-04-16

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[00:00.00]
  • The arts world in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is very active.
  • [00:06.99]
  • But talented local artists still struggle for international recognition.
  • [00:13.37]
  • One of those artists is 26-year-old Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga.
  • [00:19.18]
  • Kamuanga says Congo's cultural and mineral wealth has influenced his artistry.
  • [00:26.67]
  • He says another influence is his country’s painful colonial history.
  • [00:33.42]
  • His paintings have been shown in South Africa, Europe and the United States.
  • [00:40.95]
  • One of his pieces can sell for as much as $30,000 at an international auction.
  • [00:48.74]
  • That makes him one of Congo’s highest paid artists.
  • [00:54.53]
  • But art industry experts say his work only gets average prices when compared to artists worldwide.
  • [01:05.06]
  • Kamuanga says African artists are thought of differently in the arts world.
  • [01:11.93]
  • He adds, “I think it is a struggle for many artists in Africa to get the same recognition.”
  • [01:19.23]
  • Another artist, Freddy Tsimba, says one problem is the lack of support in DRC.
  • [01:27.48]
  • Tsimba creates sculptures.
  • [01:31.03]
  • His works are shown internationally, but get little attention in his home country.
  • [01:37.90]
  • Congolese artist Vitshois Mwilambwe Bondo has shown his art work and lived around the world.
  • [01:46.36]
  • But he returned home to Congo to work at a recently established studio for young Congolese artists.
  • [01:55.10]
  • "I say, OK, it is good for me to stay here, why? Because we need to build [the] art scene and to make something, since the people can buy artwork in Congo. And now, people are starting to buy, (but it) is a big process, it is a big challenge."
  • [02:13.08]
  • Currently, the studio has two women artists. One of them is Dina Ekanga.
  • [02:22.59]
  • She says it is not easy being both a woman and an artist because the men push you around from all sides.
  • [02:32.38]
  • She adds that the art scene is rather difficult, especially in Congo.
  • [02:38.16]
  • Younger artists, like painter Romario Lukau, also say they struggle to establish themselves.
  • [02:46.63]
  • Lukau is one of four young painters who are trying to find success as artists.
  • [02:54.33]
  • They sell their paintings for about $1,000 each.
  • [03:03.24]
  • Lukau says his biggest dream is for people to talk about Congolese art the way we talk about American, German or Belgian art.
  • [03:14.57]
  • He and other Congolese artists say they are hopeful that dream will come true one day soon.
  • [03:22.68]
  • I’m Jonathan Evans.
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