Monsengo Shula

Born in 1959 in Nioki, Democratic Republic of Congo
Lives and works in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The quality of the drawings of this self-taught artist was quickly recognized by his peers. At the age of 19, Mosengo Shula began working as an assistant to his cousin, the famous painter Moke (1950-2001), master colorist and godfather of "popular painting": "Moke taught me all the nuances, all the gradations of color. By nature, I like the color blue, since I am soft and I do not speak much". During this collaboration, Shula developed his style and technique with color combinations. He then sought to make his own way by painting on postcards and practicing mural painting, before arriving at popular painting where he drew scenes from the street, daily life and religious. Anxious not to do déjà-vu, he chooses other subjects, such as globalization, the Internet and the speed of the world today.

Color combinations are characteristic of Shula Mosengo's painting. His mixtures of colors seem to transcend reality and give his paintings dreamlike impressions. This use of color distinguishes him from other masters of popular painting (Chéri Samba, Chéri Chérin, Moke). His allegorical subjects and a "fauve" color palette explain this surrealist aspect. Shula invites the viewer into his world filled with imaginary scenes. Colorful, full of humor and mischief, Shula's narrative paintings represent mainly the daily life of his compatriots, not without criticizing corruption or the influence of the churches: "The painter is useful because we say out loud what others think down. The artist intends to raise awareness and elevate the population, while condemning political injustice.
His works bring a fresh perspective to universal issues such as global warming, international politics and the use of technology. The artist explores the rise of globalization in African landscapes, environmental changes and developments on the continent.
Shula is also interested in "modern addictions". Headphones, cables, USB sticks and mobile devices constitute his "Afro-futuristic" images showing the ambivalence of modernity, between universal connectivity and dependence on virtualities and social networks. In this sense, Shula questions the relationship between modernity and tradition by integrating African engravings and traditional sculptures in her work. Looking at their importance and participation in today's societies, her works question Africa's ability to observe and direct its own involvement and future in the real world:
"Sooner or later the world will change, and sooner or later everyone will have to talk about Africa. It's not just artistic, it's political. We are the biggest continent, we are the crossroads of the whole world. We must continue to emerge on the world stage and we have everything we need. There is gold, copper, oil, diamonds, everything we need in terms of natural resources.


Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain