12 June 1956
Kinto M’Vuila, Democratic Republic of Congo
Chéri Samba or Samba wa Mbimba N’zingo Nuni Masi Ndo Mbasi (born December 30, 1956 in Kinto M’Vuila) is a painter from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is one of the most famous contemporary African artists, with his works being included in the collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A large amount of his paintings are also found in The Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC) of Jean Pigozzi. He has been invited to participate in the 2007 Venice Biennale. His paintings almost always include text in French and Lingala, commenting on life in Africa and the modern world. Chéri Samba lives in Kinshasa and Paris.
Chéri Samba was born in Kinto M’Vuila as the elder son of a family of ten children. His father was a blacksmith and his mother a farmer. In 1972, at the age of 16 he left the village to find work as a sign painter in the capital of Kinshasa where he encountered such artists as Moké and Bodo. This group of artists including Samba’s younger brother Cheik Ledy became one of the most vibrant schools of popular painting.
In 1975 he opened his own studio. At the same time he also became an illustrator for the entertainment magazine Bilenge Info. Working both as a billboard painter and a comic strip artist, Samba used the styles of both genres when he began making his paintings on sacking cloth. He borrowed the use of “word bubbles” from comic strip art which allowed him to add not only narrative but also commentary into his compositions thus giving him his signature style of combining paintings with text. His work earned him some local fame. 1979 Chéri Samba participated in the exhibition "Moderne Kunst aus Afrika", which was organized in West-Berlin. The exhibition was part of the program of the first festival Horizonte - Festival der Weltkulturen
He is the central figure in the 1982 documentary film, Kin Kiesse, offering his thoughts on life in Kinshasa. According to the film's director, Mweze Ngangura, Chéri Samba was instrumental in the making of the film, convincing the French Ministry of Co-operation, France 2 and Congolese television that Ngangura could make a film on Kinshasa.
His breakthrough was the exhibition Les Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 1989, which made him known internationally.
In 2007, curator Robert Storr invited Samba to participate in the 52nd International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale, entitled “Think with the Senses—Feel with the Mind. Art in the Present Tense”, and described by The Huffington Post as 'certainly "the exhibition" of this new Century'.
The Global Contemporary Art Worlds After 1989, Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, Germany
JAPANCONGO: Carsten Höllerʼs double-take on Jean Pigozziʼs collection, Le Magasin,Centre national d'Art Contemporain, Grenoble, France
Why Africa? Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli Turin, Italy
Popular Painting from Kinshasa Tate Modern, (Room 10) London, UK
The Venice Biennale Italian Pavillon Venice, Italia
Africa Remix Art contemporain d’un continent, Travelling exhibition : Germany, UK, France, Tokyo
- Contemporary African Art Collection, Geneva - Paintings and bio
- Cham, Mbye (2 July 2008). "Interview with Mweze Ngangura". OurFilms: Films from the African Diaspora. African Film Festival. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
- Raymond J. Learsy, The Venice Biennale, A European Triumph, A Global Cast, and a Great American Art Director in "The Huffington Post", 7/6/2007.
- André Magnin and Robert Storr, J'aime Cheri Samba, Thames & Hudson, 2004. ISBN 978-0-500-97014-0
- Fred Robarts, Chéri Samba: interview in "Timeout London", 28/03/2007.
- Chéri Samba at the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain (Paris)
- Chéri Samba at Pascal Polar gallery, Brussels, Belgium
- Exhibition at Galerie Peter Hermann, Berlin
- Congo's Hogarth - Art Review magazine, July 2007, by Fred Robarts
- Venice Biennale 2007 - photo of Samba's room
- African Contemporary | Art Gallery - Chéri Samba's paintings