About Congo / People & Culture / Arts

The Teke sculpt ritual wood statues in the form of ancestral spirits and masks decorated with geometric figures. The Kongo statues are famous for their abundance of nails and knife blades stuck in the wood. The Vili statues are similar to those of Punus in Gabon, with faces painted in white. The Babembes are specialized in small paintings. Edouard Malonga and Gregoire Massengo (1910-1978) are considered the fathers of Congolese traditional sculpture.

While sculpture is embedded in Congolese arts, painting is another element that is strongly tied to the Congolese artistic mindset. Rising contemporary Congolese painters such as Rhode Bathe-Scheba Makoumbou share a diverse and exotic taste of arts. Daughter of famous Congolese painter, David Makoumbou, Ms. Rhode Scheba focuses her paintings on the social activities of women in Africa. In her oil paintings, she generally uses a knife. Since 2002, she has also created many sculptures (made with sawdust, and wood glue on a metal structure) representing the different village activities that are about to disappear due to urbanization.

Rhode Bathe-Scheba Makoumbou describes her works as echoing the social and cultural memory of Africa in general and of Congo, in particular. Starting in 2003, Rhode has embarked on an international career and exhibiting her work in Congo-Brazzaville, Cameroon, the United States, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Senegal, Morocco, Tanzania, the Netherlands, Gabon, Niger, Canada etc. She currently has a workshop in Brussels, Belgium but continues to work between the Republic of Congo and Europe.

Other than Rhode Bathe-Scheba Makoumbou, the Republic of Congo have been gifted with modern painters such as Tatiana Tsolo and Elsie Fortunat Mafouta. A native of the city of Mossaka, in Congo, Ms. Tsolo expresses the norms of Congolese society from a female perspective in her art work. In her paintings, she often addresses themes of love, life and nature. Having left his native Congo for Cuba in 1986 to pursue his college degree, Elsie Fortunat Mafouta, never gave up his lifetime dream of becoming a renown painter. His passion for naturalism and pictural arts have echoed his goal of unveiling the beauty of the Republic of Congo to the outside world.

Amongst other famous Congolese female artists is Yolande Motse Akanati. Born in Brazzaville but raised in France during her teenage years, Mrs. Yolande Motse Akanati is a fashion designer, jewelry designer, painter and a perfumer who has gained a name on the Congolese artistic scene since the 1980’s. Mrs. Akanati's paintings revolve around the role of women in Congolese contemporary society. Her ability to create clothes from a mixture of traditional African and Western fashion style creates a blend of where Congolese fashion stands: a hybrid of modern and traditional trends that are deeply rooted in values that pertain to define the Congolese identity in contemporary society. In 2008, she launched her first perfume, Kimia No.1 (peace in Lingala) which was an instant hit within the Congolese diaspora. In 2011, Mrs. Akanati also launched her third high profile perfume known as EWO, which aimed to commemorate the 51st independence anniversary of the Congolese independence that took place in the city of Ewo. Currently, she lives between France and the Republic of Congo where she spends her time between business and family time. In 2010, she opened Moste Akanati Créations Boutique located in the building of Hôtel du Boulevard in Brazzaville. The renowned artist recently launched in April 2013, a fashion institute in Brazzaville that gives courses on sewing, fashion design, jewelry making and modeling. During her spare time, this devoted mother of two dedicates her love and skills to her NGO, SAREPTA, which caters to the needs of orphans and widows in the Republic of Congo.

To emphasize its dedication to arts, the Republic of Congo has been the home to one of the most famous African painting schools: The Poto-Poto School of Painting ( Ecole de Peinture de Poto-Poto). This school of arts in Brazzaville is named after one of the most famous neighborhoods of the capital. It is internationally renown for having trained numerous Congolese and other African painters such as the late Marcel Goten and Remy Mongo-Etsion.. The school also bears a reputation for inventing “ Les Mickeys,” a distinctive painting style. It is currently headed by Nicolas Ongongo and since then has opted for a naturalism painting style such as animal hunting, or market place scenes that depict the daily lives of the rural and urban Congolese people. Other distinctive Congolese painters such as Bill Kouelany and Francois Mafoua have had the privilege of exposing their paintings at the Congo Gallery of Arts in both Brazzaville and Paris.

top of the page