ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Chéri Samba

* 1956 in Kinto-M’Vuila (CD), lives and works in Kinshasa (CD)

L’espoir fait vivre no. 2, 1997

Chéri Samba began his artistic career after having taught himself, initially finding work as a draftsman in the advertising industry and as a sign painter for advertising agencies in Kinshasa. In 1975, he opened his own studio in the same city. It was above all his participation in the exhibition Magiciens de la terre in Paris, in 1989, which gained Samba’s international recognition.
Samba participated in this exhibition with the first version of his self-portrait. It bore the title L’espoir fait vivre [Hope Permits Us to Live], and narrates the course of his life up until his departure to Paris. The artist “clings to the ‘C’ in the presence of his first advisor,” which is a play on his first name “Chéri” and illustrates the “several stages in his biography as an artist”, as he remarked in a commentary; the “S”, as in Samba, however, narrates his life “during childhood.” In the same year, 1997, in which a solo-exhibition was dedicated to his work at the Musée national des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie in Paris, Chéri Samba painted a new version of his self-portrait, exhibited at the ZKM, in which he extended his biography as well as his appearance much like a protocol. His self-portrait of 1989 was based on a concept. He challenged the viewer to take a new look at an artist from Africa, an artist, moreover, with a name and a biography – something with which one is accustomed in Western art. (AB)


L’espoir fait vivre no. 2
, 1997