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Chéri Samba’s riff on Picasso catches the eye of designer Paul Smith

2 min read  ·  21 Apr 2023

Chéri Samba’s Picasso portrait at the Musee Picasso Paris. Copyright the artist. Photo by Florian Kleinefenn. Courtesy Galerie Magnin-A

Chéri Samba is trending on HENI News as Paul Smith chooses the African artist’s portrait of Picasso for a high-profile show at the Musée Picasso Paris.

Chéri Samba's HENI Score, a unique artist’s sentiment index, has increased by an impressive 152% as his portrait of Picasso is featured in a Paris museum show art directed by the fashion designer Paul Smith. See Chéri Samba's HENI Dashboard to find out more about the artist and gain a greater insight into his market.

Samba’s auction sales have totalled more than $530,000 over the past two years, an indication of the strong demand for his work in the secondary art market. Samba's J'aime La Couleur (2003) recently sold for $33,900 at Sotheby's Online, exceeding its high estimate. Another work, Je suis un Rebelle (1999), sold at the estimated price of $26,500 at Bonhams in London.

The artist, who is based in Kinshasa, is represented by Pascal Polar gallery, Brussels. In 2022, Galerie Magnin-A in Paris presented a mini survey of his work.

Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1956, the artist opened his own studio in 1975 and in the early 1980s began signing his paintings "Chéri Samba: Artiste Populaire". His paintings often incorporate imagery and text, depicting everyday life in Kinshasa. Samba's work also often addresses themes related to African politics and identity, making bold and sometimes satirical statements about social and cultural issues.

The artist’s colorful paintings have attracted the attention of Paul Smith, who included one in his show “Picasso Celebration: the Collection in a New Light!” at the Musée Picasso Paris in 2023. Samba’s portrait, a riff on Robert Doisneau’s famous photograph of the Spanish artist at home in the South of France, forms a wry comment on European artists’ appropriation of traditional African art.

The Congolese artist first made his international breakthrough in Paris when his paintings were included in the influential exhibition “Les Magiciens de la Terre” organised by the Centre Pompidou in 1989. Samba went on to have first solo museum show in Paris at the prestigious Fondation Cartier in 2004.