London

Moke
Born in 1950 in Ibe, Bandundu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Died in 2001 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Aptly described as a ‘painter reporter’ of city life, Moke was among the leading artists of the school of painting that sprung up in Kinshasa in the first decade of Zaïre’s independence. Relocating to Kinshasa at the age of ten, Moke arrived with very little means. Discovering there was a market for painting, he taught himself how to render landscapes on discarded pieces of cardboard. In 1965, he produced a painting representing General Mobutu waving to the crowds as he led the parade commemorating Independence Day. This composition, which he returned to many times in later years, launched Moke’s career. He set up a studio at the crossroads of Kasa Vubu and Bolobo, the district where many billboard and advertising artists worked, and immersed himself in the daily life of the city from which he drew his inspiration. Street scenes, bars, the local dandies (known as ‘Sapeurs’) as well as the powerful Miziki (associations of financially independent women) found their way into his canvases as did Kinshasa’s all-night parties and neighbourhood disputes.

Moke, 'Untitled', 1979.