Interviews door Sinzo Aanza: #6 Sim Simaro

Tentoonstellingszicht ‘Een gesprek tussen collecties uit Kinshasa en Oostende’ (episode 1): Sim Simaro & Jef Geys (c) Kristien Daem

Sinzo Aanza is cocurator van de tentoonstelling ‘Een gesprek tussen collecties uit Kinshasa en Oostende’. Hij interviewde acht kunstenaars die leven en werken Kinshasa en wiens werk in langdurige bruikleen in Mu.ZEE aanwezig is. De gesprekken gaan voornamelijk (gedeeltelijk) door in het Lingala omdat dit de kunstenaars toelaat op een vrijere manier te spreken over hun werk. Voor de vertaling werkt Mu.ZEE samen met Universiteit Gent. De acht interviews zullen allemaal beschikbaar worden gemaakt via deze blog.

# 6: Sim Simaro


0:00-0:03        I’ll introduce myself:
0:03-0:08        Nsingi Ndosimao Simon
0:08-0:11        Alias: ‘Sim Simaro’,
0:11-0:13        ‘The Prophet of Popular Painting’.
0:13-0:16        That’s my slogan.
0:17-0:20        I practice popular painting.
0:20-0:22        I’m one of the great
0:23:0-26        popular painters from Congo.
0:27-0:29        Because popular painting began…
0:30-0:33        It began a long time ago,
0:34-0:36        in the time of our grandparents.
0:37-0:38        But it was not well known.
0:39-0:41        If it is well known today,
0:42-0:44        then it is thanks to us.
0:45-0:47        Today, people know that
0:47-0:49        popular painting exists.
0:50-0:52        And that is thanks to me.
0:52-0:54        I can list the colleagues with whom
0:54-0:55        I started popular painting
0:55-0:57        here in Kinshasa.
0:58-0:59        I am one of them.
0:59-1:00        There is also Chéri Samba,
1:00-1:02        Chéri Benga,
1:03-1:06        Bodo, Ange Kumbi…
1:08-1:12        And also Chéri Chérin.
1:12-1:13        Even though he is younger than us.
1:14-1:17        And a few more who came after us.
1:18-1:19        People like Matshuela.
1:20-1:21        There are literally too many of us
1:21-1:22        to list.
1:23-1:24        Sinzi is another one.
1:25-1:28        We are the ones who started popular painting,
1:29-1:30        as it is known today
1:31-1:33        in Kinshasa, and the whole world.
1:34-1:38        We are the professionals in this kind of painting.
1:40-1:42        As far as my work is concerned…
1:42-1:44        When I left school
1:44-1:46        I could not find work.
1:47-1:49        I didn’t know what to do.
1:49-1:51        But I said to myself that I
1:51-1:53        was actually good at drawing.
1:53-1:55        From when I was little, at school,
1:55-1:57        I was good at drawing.
1:58-2:00        I thought, ‘I have no work
2:01-2:04        but I am good at drawing’.
2:05-2:07        We were eating somewhere
2:07-2:08        on Avenue Bokasa
2:09-2:13        and I saw the writing, ‘Artista Pintor’.
2:13-2:17        Artista Pintor is a man who
2:17-2:20        makes murals.
2:21-2:23        He decorates signs.
2:24-2:27        I told him that I was also good at drawing
2:28-2:30        and asked him if
2:30-2:34        I could be his apprentice
2:34-2:38        in order to build a future for myself.
2:39-2:43        He said that I could certainly come
2:43-2:45        and learn something from him.
2:45-2:48        So I helped him, for example,
2:48-2:50        at the textile manufacturer Utex Africa.
2:50-2:53        Sometimes we worked nights
2:53-2:54        and I came to the studio during the day.
2:54-2:56        I followed him everywhere he went to decorate walls
2:56-2:58        or went to make stamps.
2:58-3:01        Or illuminated signs.
3:03-3:07        So I already made sketches for him,
3:07-3:11        of animals, of dilemmas, of the mermaid …
3:12-3:14        I did that for a year.
3:15-3:17        Then his business went bust.
3:18-3:20        I didn’t want to stay idle.
3:21-3:22        So I built a shed.
3:22-3:25        And on the wall I painted a drawing
3:26-3:28        of myself as a needy person,
3:29-3:33        begging for charity.
3:34-3:35        Many people came to ask,
3:35-3:38        ‘Where does that poor wretch come from…?’
3:38-3:41        So many people came
3:42-3:43        that it became bothersome.
3:44-3:46        Many young people from Kingasani
3:47-3:48        also begged me:
3:48-3:50        ‘Give me the mermaid’s powers!’
3:50-3:52        I said, ‘But I don’t have them!’
3:52-3:54        ‘They’re just drawings.’
3:54-3:56        For me the mermaid is just beautiful to draw.
3:57-3:59        It’s a beautiful girl, that’s all.
3:59-4:01        That’s the only reason why I draw her so often.
4:02-4:03        But I don’t have her magic powers.
4:04-4:06        The women from the street
4:07-4:09        come and help me with their beauty
4:09-4:10        to draw the mermaid.
4:10-4:12        In a positive sense.
4:12-4:14         As regards my work…
4:15-4:17        I mainly work with oil on canvas.
4:17-4:19        And acrylics.
4:19-4:21        That is my technique.
4:21-4:24        Sometimes one part in oil paint and another in acrylic
4:24-4:26        but always on canvas.
4:29-4:33        I really love everyday themes.
4:33-4:35        So a variety of themes.
4:36-4:38        Markets, for example.
4:39-4:40        There are always lots of people there.
4:41-4:44        Like one of my drawings that’s now being exhibited.
4:44-4:46        ‘The atmosphere at Kinshasa’s central market’
4:47-4:49        I often draw the bustling scene
4:49-4:51        on the central market in Kinshasa.
4:52-4:54        The beautiful things that
4:55-4:56        people buy and sell.
4:57-4:59        And then a thief that is stealing there!
5:00-5:03        Before he steals, he prays to God.
5:04-5:06        ‘God, help me.’
5:06-5:07        ‘I’m about to steal.’
5:07-5:12        ‘Help me and I will donate part of it to the priest.’
5:13-5:17        So thieves who pray when they steal.
5:18-5:23        I don’t know if God actually helps thieves.
5:24-5:25        Because God is great.
5:25-5:29        Does he actually allow that?
5:30-5:36        But I draw that, because I see them doing it.
5:37-5:39        I often draw animals too.
5:40-5:46        Like in my work ‘Animal Football’.
5:47-5:50        I enjoy that.
5:50-5:53        So I make the animals play football.
5:54-5:56        I give it the title:
5:56-5:58        ‘The rules have to be amended.’
5:59-6:00        Because the arbitration doesn’t always run smoothly.
6:02-6:04        The referee is only human.
6:04-6:06        He has his feelings.
6:07-6:08        In some cases I don’t agree with him.
6:09-6:10        It would be better if the referee was electronic
6:10-6:12        or a robot.
6:13-6:15        With a human, the feelings are too dominant.
6:16-6:18        He can wrongly whistle for offside.
6:18-6:19        That’s why I have created that work.
6:20-6:24        So that is what I, Sim Simaro,
6:24-6:26        can briefly say today.
6:27-6:29        If you can come again
6:29-6:30        I’ll tell you the rest.

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