From April 7 to 27, the ‘‘Makwacha’’ exhibition at ‘’La Maison des Métallos’’ will introduce for the very first time to French public the unique mural art of this village of the DRC. Women paint on the exterior walls of their house with natural pigments and their ephemeral murals are unusually expressive.
Initiated by African Artist for Development (AAD) and curated by Hervé Di Rosa, this exceptional event offers – beyond a mere exhibition- a deeply moving encounter with three of these women who wished to share their passion, techniques and culture.
This landmark exhibition is the result of a five years long commitment of AAD towards the community of Makwacha village, of the southern Katanga province in the DRC, introduced with the ‘Women for Water’ program: launched in March 2009 to develop access to clean water in their community, this program led to the drilling of three wells in the village guaranteeing an access to drinkable water even during dry season. Much more than a mere development initiative “Women for Water” enabled an encounter with a secular artistic tradition, through which Lambas women become the storytellers and agents of the cultural and historical heritage of their community. Now free from a duty (collecting water) requiring them to sometimes walk more than 5 kilometres a day, they can fully commit to their art.
Three members of the women’s association of Makwacha– Ms Fernande MUNSHA SEBELWA, Ms Madeleine MPALA KASONGO, and Miss Chancelle FEBI KABU – will be present to make frescoes in situ and to display their paintings. The realisation of the exhibition of murals meets an expectation explicitly formulated by the women painters themselves. During this project, they produced 8 monumental canvases that reflect the expressive force of this art so far unknown. Exhibiting the frescos to the sight of any passer-by, Makwacha women express and affirm their values in a similar way to Street Art or antique graffiti, and the murals become public voices, regularly and perpetually renewed.
“ I believe that a fundamental wisdom exudes from the art of those women, a wisdom that reminds those who take the time to listen of certain essential values. In displaying their work so ‘publicly’, beyond simply decorating their village, they reaffirm and refine their wisdom, drawing from traditional symbols yet also revealing a unique viewpoint of their contemporary world, today in the midst of ‘modernization’.” underlined Gervanne Leridon, co-president of AAD.
Hervé Di Rosa, founder of the ‘Modest Art’, curates the exhibition. Since the end of the 80s he has enriched his artistic approaches through the contact of artists and craftsmen from all around the world. He created in 2000 the International Museum of Modest Arts (MIAM). For Hervé Di Rosa, the artistic work of Makwacha women is an evidence that if “there is a modest Art, there is no small artist”. And it is indeed exceptional women that we meet through this exhibition.