Contemporary African Art Collection by Jean Pigozzi

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Jean Depara

Born 1928, Kboklolo, Angola
Died 1997, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

Depara came to photography almost by accident. To record his wedding in 1950 he bought himself a small Adox camera—after which he never ceased to seek out new subjects for his lens. Settling in Kinshasa in 1951, Depara at first combined his photography with various small jobs: repairing bicycles and cameras, dealing in scrap metal. In 1954 the celebrated Zairian singer Franco invited him to become his official photographer, launching Depara’s career as a chronicler of Kinshasa social life in the era when the Rumba and the Cha Cha defined the city’s rhythm. He set up a studio under the name Jean Whisky Depara and spent his days in bars like the Kwist, the OK Bar, or the Sarma Congo. At night he hung out at such clubs as the Afro Mogenbo, the Champs-Elysées, the Djambo Djambu, the Oui, the Fifi, the Show Boat. Night owls particularly fascinated him and with his flash Depara captured an Africa stripped of conventional social codes. Interracial couples, hipsters, and those who in imitation of James Dean chose to “Live fast, die young” became both his subjects and his clients.

Among Depara’s themes in his photographs are the Miziki who have such a powerful role in Kinshasa society. These associations of women were rooted in pre-independence traditions, and a Moziki (singular form of Miziki) could act as a banker within her social circle. In the 1950s and 1960s, Miziki associations took such names as La Pause and La Mode, and commissioned famous bands to compose songs for their annual events.

Depara died leaving his archive of hundreds negatives untitled; with the permission of the artist’s family, his close friend Oscar Mbemba has titled the works in the spirit of this era.

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2002
De Para
Centre de la Photographie
Geneva - Switzerland

2001
4th Meeting for African Photography
Bamako, Mali.

2000
Noorderlicht 2000 photofestival,
Fries Museum
Leeuwarden, Netherland.

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2011
Feb 6 - Apr 24 2011
JapanCongo
Magasin Grenoble, France

2010
Oct 8 - Oct 25 2010
African Stories
Marrakech Art Fair, Marrakech

2006/2007
12 Oct - 18 Feb 2007
100% Africa
Guggenheim Museum
Bilbao, Spain

2005
Arts of Africa
Grimaldi Forum
Monaco - France

2005
African Art Now : Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection
Museum of Fine Art Houston
Houston - USA

2004
E la Nave Va « Jours tranquilles à Kinshasa »
MAMCO
Geneva - Switzerland

2000
Africa : Past-Present
Seydou Keita, P.K. Apagya, Depara, C.A. Azaglo and Ojeikere
Fifty One Fine Art Photography
Antwerp - Belgium

1998 - 1999
Eye Africa : African photography 1840-1998
Festival of African photography
SANG
Cape Town – South Africa

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

2006
100% Africa
Exhibition catalogue. Published by TF Editores & FMGB Guggenheim Bilbao Museum.

2005
African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection
Exhibition catalogue. Published by Merrell.

2001
Mémoires Intimes d'un Nouveau Millénaire - Intimates Memories of the New
Millenium
(4ème Rencontres de la Photographie africaine, Bamako 2001).
Edited by Eric Koehler.

2000
Noorderlicht 2000 photofestival.
Fries Museum, exhibition catalogue, Depara p.25-32.
Leeuwarden, Netherland.

1998
" L'Eveil d'un regard " Depara
Anthologie de la Photographie Africaine et de l'Océan Indien.
XIXe & XXe Siècles. Texts in French.
Editions : Revue Noire, France.



Jean Depara : Biography (eng/fr) Exhibitions

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Jean Depara Biography

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