In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, style is decidedly eccentric. Every year, on the 10th of February the "sapeurs" (elegant dandies), parade the streets of Kinshasa to celebrate "La SAPE"; style, ostentation and elegance. The SAPE movement (Society for Elegant and ambience-enhancing people) appeared in the 60's in the Congo. Back then, the sapeurs were the dandies and to this day have remained so. The initial purpose was to parade with grandiloquence in the suits, shoes and accessories of great fashion designers who were venerated like gods. A hugely colourful extravaganza of labels which flaunted the talents of the likes of Gaultier, Vuitton, Cerruti, Versace, Yamamoto, Miyake, Weston, Dolce & Gabbana...
The SAPE is a true subculture, with its own rules and values. While some view the movement as a religion or ideology in its own right rather than as a subculture, others see sapology as a science, an art, and a culture... The dandies are recognized by the sophistication and colours of their clothes, as well as for their behaviour. Despite the potential poverty of the dandies, they wear suits and fashion accessories from luxury fashion houses: it is about being able to sacrifice one's standard of living in order to look elegant, the goal is to be as eye-catching and distinguishable as possible.
Sapology generates a competitive spirit among its adherents. Each one must be able to explain his style of dress and defend it in the face of competition. In this manner, they literally become actors of this movement through the creation of magnified characters. Many use pseudonyms or even stage names. Playing the role is an important element of this movement and features unconventional poses, a personal manner of displaying the clothes, gestural interpretation and a farfetched and controlled vocabulary.
After studying Fine Arts in Kinshasa for a year, Francis Mampuya chose to move on to avoid an academicism that asphyxiated him. With two friends he founded the "libristes" group, favouring artistic freedom. Finally each member went their own way, but the seed had been sown. In 1997, he was awarded the Missio prize in Germany. Francis Mampuya's universe alternates between semi figurative and abstract art, the abstraction always being suggestive. Although the first impact is that of bright colours with a predominance of blue and red, his purpose is rather more sombre, showing a pain that is very near. Faces are rendered without mouths, because the voice of the people is silenced and inaudible, and silhouettes are vague and blurred because all is uncertain, all is in disorder. Colour is projected on canvas with fast and abrupt movements.
Francis Mampuya has his devotees. Of his work certainly, but of his personal qualities too: his simple and sincere attention, his discreet charm. He exhibits his work mostly in Kinshasa where he received the first prize in an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the country's independence. Mampuya the rebel, the libriste, has gradually consolidated himself as a secure value of Congolese painting, as an established reference. In November 2016, he exhibited in the AKAA fair of contemporary art in Paris.
Born in 1993, in Cameroon, Boris Anje discovered art during his childhood. The proximity of his cousin Samuel Njomke, who was taking his first courses in drawing, influenced him greatly in his artistic practise. His work and creations are centred on the intimate relationship linked with the concept of negative dependency. “My artistic work arises from the intimate relationship linked with notions of negative dependency. A force of attraction that generates a fictitious bond between two random things. Thus, man becomes his own slave, creating a balance where everything that he imagines is fused together. I'm interested in producing pieces that function like a mirror for introspection. From an aesthetic point of view, I engage in the metaphoric relation of the elements that are interposed and transformed. My outlook overcomes my own artistic will. In this sense, by means of an introspective search closely related to that of my own subjects, my work becomes a kind of interrogation and presentation of the realities of negative dependency, knowing that to reject all dependence is to elevate man above being." Explains Boris.His favourite themes relate to social matters, the subjects of said taboos. Curious and interested in everything he sees, he uses different artistic disciplines such as painting, drawing, video and digital art in general. After finishing his baccalaureate in 2012, he managed to enter the Foumban Institute of Fine Arts (IBAF). His studies allowed him to make contact with famous artists such Hervé Youmbi and Jean-Jacques Kanté among others. He participated in various group shows at the Congo French Institute in Brazzaville, at the Atelier Sahm following a month-long artistic residency, in the Festival Cot'Art organized by the Cotco society and at the Cameroon French Institute in Bamenda. He also participated in other events celebrated in Cameroon such as the 2014 Nguon Festival and the 2016 Cot'Art Festival.
In his creations, the artist exteriorizes his thoughts: for him art is liberating and allows him to go forth and encounter others, hide his shyness and feel fulfilled. In the exhibition "The Congo Dandies" to be held in June and July 2017 at the Out of Africa gallery, Boris Anje's work depicts subjects who are addicted to things or concepts, to fashion, labels, and the need to pretend to be what they are not. “In this consumer world, the desire to feign imposes itself as a human need, as a catalyst of our life, making us believe that it makes us superior, that it allows us to elevate ourselves within society, "says Boris Anje.