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Out of the Shadows - Sculptures from Southwest Congo

The exhibition that has been on view at the Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac since December 14, 2021, and which can be seen until April 10, 2022, has everything the readers of this journal like best - discovery, scholarship, and aesthetic appeal.

Organized by Julien Volper, curator of the ethnographic collections of the Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale (MRAC) in Tervuren, Belgium, and African art history lecturer at the ULB in Brussels, La part de l'ombre (Out of the Shadows) explores the Congolese southwest, a cultural area that corresponds more or less to the former province of Bandundu (and the Kinshasa area as well), inhabited by dozens of cultural groups.

The wealth of artistic productions it has spawned is revealed through a selection of more than 160 worls, most of which are from the MRAC's collection, but some of which also come from other museums and private collections.

While some of the pieces in the show, such as the beautiful masks used in mukanda initiation rituals, are examples of sculptural tradtion that have been relatively well studied, most of the exhibition focuses on a less well-known art: the wooden statuary of groups like the Yanzi, the Wuum, the Mbala, the Suku, the Pende, the Yaka, and the Buma, among others.

ABOVE: Mask, pwo. Tshokwe; DR Congo. Wood, pigments, fiber, textile. H: 18,5 cm. Collected by Jesuit missionary G. Le Paige. Accessioned 1948. Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren, inv. EO. 1948.20.165. © MRAC, photo: Studio R. Asselberghs - F. Dehaen.

ABOVE: Pendant gikhoko. Pende, DR Congo. Elephant ivory. H: 9 cm. Ex Adolphe Stocket. Marc L. Felix Collection, inv. FX980999. © Felix collection, photo: Maureen Vincke.

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