Angalia - African contemporary art
Angalia - African contemp
Angalia - African contemporary art

Freddy Tsimba

Freddy Tsimba
Freddy Tsimba was born in Kinshasa (DRC) in 1967. He lives in Kinshasa.
Having studied monumental sculpture at the city’s School of Fine Arts (1989), Tsimba spent five years alongside master blacksmiths and master casters to learn their trade.
He made a name for himself by collecting cartridge cases from conflict areas and painstakingly welding them together to create sculptures. These Sihouettes effacées (anonymous silhouettes), the nameless victims of human folly, are mainly women who are pregnant and bear the traces of mutilation. Tsimba’s works are bleak but they are not designed to shock. His intention is to depict and denounce war, both in Congo and all other conflicts. The harsh nature of the message does not mean that the shapes are without beauty. The depiction of pregnant women conveys a message of hope as Tsimba tells us that despite everything, “life always prevails.”
Freddy Tsimba does not limit himself to using cartridge cases. He works with plenty of other collected metal items, which for some symbolize death (machetes and mousetraps), for others oppression (chains) and addiction (capsules). In fact, the symbolism of the works is very frequently two-fold, as the message behind the works is never hopeless. For instance, keys express imprisonment but also the idea of opening the door to freedom, while spoons convey both hunger and subsistence, and Tsimba likes to reiterate that machetes are first and foremost agricultural tools.

His last work, a monumental sculpture more than three meters high entitled Porteuse de vies, was unveiled in Paris in December 2018 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the place where it was negotiated and signed in 1948: the Palais de Chaillot, located in front of the Eiffel Tower. The work represents a woman made of cartridge cases and bearing an open book made of keys, "giving us the keys so that today human beings can triumph and to state loudly and clearly that life is priceless." 

Tsimba just keeps on creating and is always on the move and willing to chat, and draws inspiration from opportunities and encounters. Freddy Tsimba is friendly, cheerful and positive and is as gentle as his work is harsh. This may seem paradoxical; yet great sensitivity is required to tenaciously pay tribute over time to anonymous suffering. There is something extremely heartening in his work and journey.

> CV

Freddy Tsimba : Photo Album

"Freddy Tsimba : des douilles pour la vie" | RFI, 16 January 2019

Press review

See the press review (in French) about the work Porteuse de vies at the Théâtre National de Chaillot (Paris, France) [gathered by African Artist for Development and reproduced with their kind permission].