Feature: Painter of Republic of Congo finds inspiration from bustling street

2021-07-28 12:30:20 GMT2021-07-28 20:30:20(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

By Xinhua writer Shi Yu

BRAZZAVILLE, July 28 (Xinhua) -- In Brazzaville, where art stalls can be found almost after every casual turn on the streets, a local artist Andre N'Kitengue finds his inner peace on canvas in spite of road traffic noise.

In the capital of the Republic of the Congo, flowers with bright blaze are soothed beneath Andre's loving hand.

At his outdoor atelier, Andre kicks off his day as usual in front of his paint stand, waiting for the inspiration coming to him. Unlike other artists that seeks silence and solitude during art making, he prefers to capture the passion from the bustling street.

"The noise here actually gives me the strength to stay creative. To make abstract paintings, it is about capturing the things in real life that people can't quite understand. So sitting here gives me more inspiration than anywhere else," he said.

From colorful paintings to exquisite wooden sculptures, magic always happens here, where artists set up their ateliers next to the road and an abandoned train track. Though unlike those chic art galleries that people have in mind, this very down-to-earth art district is one of the most famous destinations for art lovers from other countries in search of local art.

Though coloring his canvas and dealing with art buyers are his bread and butter, N'Kitengue insists that he is always an artist, not a businessman, as he carries on his shoulders a sense of responsibility as an artist for his local community.

"I'm really worried to see our world get upset by the pandemic. It is in this time of difficulties that we need to stay united," said N'Kitengue. With cases surging in Africa as third wave gains pace, he now shifts his focus on paintings that serve as prevention reminders for local community.

"As cars passing by my atelier, drivers and passengers would be able to see my paintings about the virus and be aware of the fact that the pandemic is not over yet. This is our role, and we are doing it right now," he said.

Beside fulfilling his duties during the pandemic, he is also an active teacher that takes in young apprentices during school vacations.

"Brazzaville is an artistic city because of its unique history. We have the form of art that is one of its kind. This is the reason why we need to pass on the legacy to our younger generations," explained N'Kitengue.

Elvis, N'Kitengue's oldest son, is on his way to become a professional like his father. Though the two sometimes have creative differences, stunning pieces keep coming out of this father-son atelier. But for N'Kitengue, artists shoulder an even bigger responsibility.

"We are not only artists, we are also here to be historians," he said, adding that by capturing the real life, he wants to present the image of the Republic of the Congo to the outside world.

For N'Kitengue, who is also surprised to see that more and more Chinese visitors and artists have shown up in the art districts, artists from both the Republic of the Congo and China should work together for the sake of art.

"We are really looking forward to that," he said. Enditem