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CHÉRI SAMBA: GRIOT OF KINSHASA AND PARIS

AS THE SELF-PORTRAIT-CUM-AUTOBIOGRAPHY hung smack at the entrance to his recent Paris show announced, Samba Wa Mbimba N’Zinga Nurimasi Mdombasi, known as Chéri Samba, is a 33-year-old self-taught artist from southern Zaire. In two columns of green and pink type that frame his beaming face and its blue-sky background, the artist tells us that he is the son of a blacksmith, that he dropped out of school at the age of 16 for lack of money, and that he made his way to the capital city of Kinshasa to become an apprentice sign painter. Three years later he opened his own workshop, and before long, business was good enough for him to leave the signs to assistants and devote himself to painting, with the result, he tells us in/on the right-hand panel of his self-portrait, and in his spicily unorthodox syntax and spelling:

IN JUST A FEW YEARS OF ACTIVITY CHÉRI HAS MANAGED TO CREATE A PUBLIC FOLLOWING

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