The art culture in Kinshasa is vibrant. Artists capture the struggles of life in the Congo through many different means. One such artist is Freddy Tsimba, born in DRC in 1967, creates sculptures that show some of the tragic consequences of war. Most of his sculptures are of nameless women, many of them are pregnant, who have been mutilated. They are sculptures that capture a reality that many women in Congo face and/or fear.
His sculptures are made out of recycled pieces of different metals. One of the more popular pieces is empty cartridge cases. He also uses machetes, mousetraps (both symbolizing death), chains (oppression), capsules (addiction), spoons (hunger and subsistence).
Tsimba’s sculptures can come across as brutal and depressing, but he strongly believes in hope for a better Africa and his art depicts that as well. Keys can be a symbol for imprisonment but also a way to open a door. A machete’s purpose is as an agricultural tool. He depicts pregnant women to convey the message that despite the very broken world we live in, “life always prevails.” So while his sculptures can seem gruesome there is also a beauty to them.
There are huge injustices that are happening on a daily basis in Congo, and many places in the world, and I think something that Freddy Tsimba’s art captures is the idea of how our perspective can change our reality of the situation. I am in no way wanting to undermine the terrible experiences many Congolese women are facing. What I am mean is there are some really dark and defeating situations that we face in life, and we can choose to let them stop us and stay in a place of defeat or we can have hope for what comes next (is the key for a prison or a way to an open door). As I learn more about Congo and read stories of the people who live there I am consistently amazed at the happy endings because they choose to make the most of a tough stage, they didn’t let it define them. And I am sure Freddy Tsimba has witnessed and experienced this very same thing. Congo is not defined by the war and violence that is wreaking havoc on so many communities, they are resilient and have hope for the peace that will follow.
Tsimba is an artist who has made it in the art world and has exhibits around the world to show for it. He is one of the many talented artists that come from Kinshasa, but one of few that got their big breakthrough.