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The Colours of Everyday / Les Couleurs du Quotidien / De Kleuren van het Alledaagse – Kinshasa (RDC)


Colours mark our existence – we see them (or we don’t); we assume that everyone has the same perception (well, they don’t); shades influence our mood and our perception of colours is coloured by our emotions. It’s a complex ensemble – and the same goes for image-makers. Belgian photographer Harry Gruyaert puts it this way: “With colour, I’m more concerned with the light, the clothes, the setting and so on. It’s far more complex”

His colleague Elliott Erwitt, also a Magnum photographer, sums it up: “With colour, you describe, but with black and white, you interpret reality”. And everybody is right.

The Colours of the Everyday / Les Couleurs du Quotidien exhibition is an initiative of the Belgian Embassy in Kinshasa (DRC):

“This quadruple exhibition aims to confront the realities experienced and perceived by photographers across the DRC and Belgium, without filters and beyond stereotypes. In this way, Belgian diplomacy is trying to contribute to living together through mutual understanding. Promoting international solidarity is one of Belgium’s priorities.”

Sometimes we need people to show us the way – and we are delighted to have been able to rely on the cooperation of representatives of the Kiripi Katembo Foundation for this exhibition.

Born in Goma in the DRC, Kiripi Katembo has devoted his work to documenting and interpreting the complex reality of Kinshasa. His images reflect the social reality of his city, revealing the challenges faced by its inhabitants. Kiripi Katembo uses art as a tool to raise awareness and mobilise action, denouncing the passivity of political leaders in the face of insalubrity and pollution.

He died of malaria at the age of 35 in 2015, leaving behind him a powerful body of work, a sublimated vision with a unique aesthetic recognised the world over.

Kiripi Katembo’s commitment is reminiscent of that of Gordon Parks, the American photographer, film-maker and campaigner for equal rights, who said he wanted to use his camera to speak for people who couldn’t speak for themselves.

But we don’t need to compare Kiripi Katembo to other photographers, because even during his lifetime he enjoyed international recognition. Today, his images can be seen in Kinshasa, and there is an exhibition in Paris and at the Tate Gallery in London.

In contrast, Joëlle Dewinter is an emerging young Belgian talent. She tells a very different story, that of a reverie on the innocence of childhood. She invites us to cherish the child within us. For her, it’s not about flight, because isn’t escaping from our daily lives for a moment part of the survival mechanism we all know? Her images resemble a warm summer breeze or a cherished winter blanket. Is it a nostalgic look back or a new carefree spirit? You be the judge.

To complete the project, in the second and third parts we present 10 students from the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Kinshasa and LUCA Narafi in Brussels, respectively. It was a difficult choice – the students surprised us with photographs that breathe art history, impressionistic, surrealist or abstract images, or that reflect intense emotions such as loss, affection, homesickness, introspection, love or connection.

The fourth section is for works by the general public from the DRC – again, 10 stars, but as in the other categories, we could have shown many more.

Colour psychology tells us that a red placebo works better than a white one, and that red stimulates the hunger response. If you feel like snacking after seeing this exhibition, it may be because of the choice of images.

The exhibition is curated by Henri Kalama Akulez, Director General of the Kinshasa Academy of Fine Arts, and John Devos, Honorary Lecturer, Brussels.


The Laureates Académie des Beaux-Arts Kinshasa DRC
Atalya MBAFUMOYA, Aristote LOKINDA, Belon MITOMBE, Benedicte DIKAMBA, Brandon BATUPE, Gloria BULANGONGO, Hardy BOPE, Jevi ABEDI, Landry NDUNGI, Wembi VAN’HOVE

The laureates General Public DRC
Cédrick Tsongo, Christian Kahangiro, Esther N’kuba, Kevine Tshiapakatshi, Laetitia Ngbonda, Marc Nsikita, Noah Maneno, Philippe Kyalondawa, Rachidi Moke & Valet Chebujongo

The laureates of LUCA School of Arts Narafi Brussels
Anila Coba, Benedikte Goethals, Birgit Dieryck, Carolle Servayge, Dieter Demey, Eliza de Morais, Felix Rabou, Maaike Dubruqué, Maartje van Agt, Madelief de Korte

John Devos


Les Couleurs du Quotidien / De Kleuren van het Alledaagse/ The Colours of Everyday
Garden of the Belgian Embassy in  Kinshasa
21 july ’23- 26 july ’23
Avenue des Jacarandas – Gombe
République démocratique du Congo
T +243 996 022 100

And afterwards :
Centre culturel Wallonie-Bruxelles de Kinshasa
28 july – 6 august
Avenue de l’Equateur 21
Kinshasa – Gombe
République démocratique du Congo
+243 (0) 99 80 10 800

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