Gradi Chéri Cherin

Oil painting on canvas, urban intervention

The Miyeba project is based on the observation that the majority of works by Congolese artists are held in museums, collections and archives abroad. The result is that, especially in the case of popular artists, their working methods, right from the production stage, tend to be aligned with the prospects of potential buyers from abroad. And yet, in its origins, popular painting was aimed more specifically at the local public, commenting on political and social events and everyday occurrences through painting. For his part, Gradi Chéri Chérin believes that it is the duty of the new generation to consider how their painting can once again appeal to the local public. The Miyeba project takes a two-pronged approach to this issue. On the one hand, it highlights a painting on the subject showing how works of art are exported, and on the other, a self-portrait of the artist imagining a popular museum accessible to the masses in (DRC). It’s an approach that calls into question Western museum models. In addition, the project also reflects on the way in which works of art are presented: how, where and to whom? Gradi Chéri Chérin is using an experimental format to display his work in urban spaces, to give a wider and more diverse public access to art, while we wait for the museum to come.

Born Gradi Kinkonda, but better known under the pseudonym Gradi Chéri Chérin, the 23-year-old self-taught popular painter is, as you might guess, the daughter of the renowned Chéri Chérin. She takes after her father, one of the most famous popular painters in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Gradi naturally learned to paint in her father’s studio. Over the years, she honed her skills in various other local studios, working alongside other artists such as Chris Toko and Strong. Inspired by the first generations of popular painters, she developed her artistic practice in the traditional way, commenting on historical and current socio-cultural and political events. But also, as a member of the new generation and a woman in a male-dominated world, she takes a critical look at the history of popular painting and how it is perceived today. Her work has been exhibited at the Atelier La jeunesse c’est la force de demain (2019), the Musée national de Kinshasa (2022) and the Atelier de Chéri Chérin (2020 – 2023).