Congo Stars – Group Show

Kunsthaus Graz , Graz
22 Sep 2018 - 27 Jan 2019

Monsengo Shula, Roi satellite, 2012. Farida and Henri Seydoux Collection. © westudio.fr

Monsengo Shula, Roi satellite, 2012. Farida and Henri Seydoux Collection. © westudio.fr

Congo Stars shows Congolese popular paintings from the 1960s to the present day as well as Congolese contemporary art, also from artists now living in Paris and Brussles, with loans from the MRCA in Tervuren, the Iwalewahaus in Bayreuth, private collectors and from Austrian collections such as the Sammlung Armin Prinz der Österreichischen Ethnomedizinischen Gesellschaft, Sammlung Horvath Politischer Kunst, Weltmuseum Wien, Sammlung Peter Weihs et al..

The inclusion of Austrian collections offers an unusual view on the “Peinture Populaire” as they present rarely or never shown works from this genre. The medical anthropologist and physician Armin Prinz, who has built up the collection for the Österreichische Ethnomedizinische Gesellschaft as well as essential parts of the Sammlung Horvath Politischer Kunst since the early 1970s, did not collect according to aesthetic criteria, but selected the artworks based on contentual considerations. Hereby, the medial or documentary aspect of this art becomes particularly clear. Peter Weihs, on the other hand, was professor for ceramics at the “Academy of Fine Arts” in Kinshasa in the 1970s and 80s and, as such, had contact with the popular painters very early. Some of them, like Chéri Cherin, were also his students.

The conjunction of the “Peinture Populaire” with positions of Congolese contemporary art, which is an important aspect of the exhibition Congo Stars, can certainly be described as a novelty. The artists who live and work partly in the Diaspora (e.g. Paris or Brussels) or in the Congo – mainly in the capital Kinshasa – often have the same themes in mind as the “Peinture Populaire”, but at the same time they have made themselves stand out clearly or emancipated themselves. Analytically, detailed, reaching many meta-levels, they work in different media.

With the addition of documentary material (photos, films, posters, etc.), the exhibition becomes a conglomeration of different information and visual media. In doing so, it achieves a density, modeled on the structure of a city, that for the visitors is almost overwhelming visually and in terms of content. Urban juggernauts such as the capital of the Congo are the role models. The synchronicity of information or the chaotic accumulation of different visualities creates an explosive and electric climate of a big city. This reflects this exhibition on a symbolic level.

The Congolese writer resident in Graz, Fiston Mwanza Mujila, created an imaginary location in 2016 by the name of Tram 83. While this place proceeds from the reality of Congolese cities – e.g. Lubumbashi und Kinshasa, it could nonetheless be almost anywhere – including Graz. This book forms the starting point for the Congo Stars exhibition.

In addition, Congo Stars places a special emphasis on the historical and current relations between Styria, Austria and the Congo, starting with diplomatic relations and educational programs in the 1960s, the founding of the Afro-Asian Institute in 1964, to the Congolese writer in residence Fiston Mwanza Mujila in Graz and Austrian collections of Congolese art.


Curated by: Sammy Baloji, Bambi Ceuppens, Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Günther Holler-Schuster and Barbara Steiner

With works by: Abis, Alfi Alfa, Sammy Baloji, Gilbert Banza Nkulu, Chéri Benga, Bodo, Vitshois Mwilambwe Bondo, Burozi, Dominique Bwalya Mwando, Chéri Cherin, Trésor Cherin, Djilatendo, Ekunde, Sam Ilus, Jean Kamba, Lady Kambulu, Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga, Kasongo, Jean Mukendi Katambayi, Aundu Kiala, J.P. Kiangu, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Ange Kumbi, Hilaire Balu Kuyangiko, Londe, Albert et Antoinette Lubaki, Gosette Lubondo, Ernest Lungieki, George Makaya Lusavuvu, Tinda Lwimba, Michèle Magema, Maurice Mbikayi, Maman Masamba, Matanda, Mbuëcky Jumeaux, JP Mika, Mega Mingiedi Tunga, Moke, Moke-Fils, Gedeon Ndonda, Nkaz Mav, Vincent Nkulu, Vuza Ntoko, Chéri Samba, SAPINart, Monsengo Shula, Sim Simaro, Maître SYMS, Tambwe, Tshibumba Kanda Matulu, Pathy Tshindele Kapinga, Tuur Van Balen & Revital Cohen and many more.

Kunsthaus Graz Universalmuseum Joanneum
Lendkai 1
8020 Graz



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