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Pierre Bodo

Pierre Bodo
1953 (Bas-Congo) - 2015 (Kinshasa) 

Pierre Bodo moved to Kinshasa in 1970. Bodo gradually got his career underway and, like so many other Kinshasa artists, started off by creating advertising boards. He opened his first studio in 1972 and in the late 1970s experienced a religious conversion and joined the Pentecostal church. Over the next two decades, Bodo used his work as a means of conveying his religious commitment, with negative forces (sorcerers and demons) being fought by the redeeming divine power in his paintings. In the 1990s, he started to paint in a non-religious style, although imaginary creatures were still the dominant theme. The women have branches laden with fruit or that are perches for birds growing from their heads, while the men are ‘dressed up’ in true Congolese SAPE style*, with bird instead of human heads. This supernatural universe evokes a society in which people are keen to look their best and dress elegantly, yet, in a restless sort of self-admiration, always feel the need to groom themselves, just as birds constantly preen their plumage. 

Pierre Bodo was the pastor of his church in Limete and combined his passion for painting with his religious commitment, running a wide-ranging social project. In 1998 under the framework of an NGO (VIEM), he opened an education support centre for deprived young people from the district of Nzadi Kingabwa. He used some of the income earned from his art to fund the centre. Nicknamed the African Bosch, Pierre Bodo was one of the leading African exponents of contemporary art. He passed away on 5 March 2015. Several of Pierre Bodo’s artworks were on display at the Beauté Congo - Congo Kitoko exhibition at the Cartier Foundation (Paris, July 2015-January 2016).

*SAPE: Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnalités Elégantes, Society of Fun lovers and Elegant People.