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Papa Mfumu’Eto 1er

Papa Mfumu’Eto 1er
Born in Matadi in Bas-Congo in 1963. Lives and works in Kinshasa.

Jaspe Saphir Mfumu’Eto's family moved to Kinshasa shortly after his birth. He studied interior design and painting but burst onto Kinshasa’s art scene with his cartoons. In 1990, he produced and distributed a cartoon telling one of those stories with supernatural and mystical undertones that are part of the life of people from Kinshasa - Nguma a meli mwasi na kati ya Kinshasa (A boa that swallowed a woman). It proved to be an outstanding success. Mfumu’Eto (meaning our chief in Kikongo) then started to produce the cartoons at a furious pace (over 10 issues a month) and soon over 100,000 were in circulation in the districts of Kinshasa. Papa Mfumu'Eto's cartoons were on display at the Beauté Congo - Congo Kitoko  exhibition at the Cartier Foundation (Paris, July 2015-January 2016). 

Whimsical and unpredictable, he regularly feels the need to go into himself. He slowly and painfully moved towards painting. Finally, on 1 January 2000, he launched himself as an artist under the name of Papa Mfumu’Eto 1er, starting to use canvas to convey his take on Kinshasa society once again. His works still speak of supernatural abductions and mystic ceremonies but also of social relationships and everyday events and things. The self-proclaimed ‘high priest of African mystical-religious-secret art', and, incidentally and with total modesty, ‘the Bantou philosopher’ and even the ‘informal poet’, cultivates a sense of worrying mystery, highlighting his absence in order to better prepare for his next ‘sensational return’. But no-one should be mistaken. Papa Mfumu’Eto 1er is a lot more than an atypical and whimsical artist. For those who are interested in Congolese society and more generally in Africa, his work is a high quality anthropological survey. It contains elements of cultural history and journalism – a lively and authentic form of journalism – which is drawn, painted and delightfully written. His canvasses also need to be read. 


Papa Mfumu’Eto 1er: Photo album

KINSHASA QUOTIDIEN catalogue - Painted miniatures