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Chéri Benga


Chéri Benga
Born in Boma, Bas-Congo, in 1957. Lives and works in Kinshasa.

Hyppolite Benga Nzau, who is known as Chéri Benga, has been painting for 35 years, which makes him one of the elder statesmen of the current crop of Congolese painters. He is also one of the pioneers of “popular painting”. Although the term is sometimes overused, in this case it is perfectly valid. In accordance with the meaning given by those who coined the term with Chéri Samba ahead, it designates a form of art that comes from the people – in the sense that artists draw inspiration from what they see around them – and can be understood by the people. Chéri Benga does not put on any airs and graces, either in his work or his approach. He depicts scenes from everyday life with simplicity.

Chéri Benga is pleasant and warm and is a team player, which is undoubtedly why the members of the AAPPO (Congo Association of Popular Artists), selected him as president. In 2010 and 2011, he travelled to Belgium with JP Mika to represent popular artists at exhibitions held in Louvain and then in Antwerp. He went back to Belgium in 2016 before traveling to Mauritius in 2017 where he were showcased as part as collective exhibitions. He is worthy of the title that he has given himself and that embellishes the façade of his studio on avenue Victoire - L’international! His studio contains artworks but customers can also commission advertising and stamps. Art in itself rarely supports a family, so additional sources of income need to be found. Indeed, this is the lot of the vast majority of Congolese artists.