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Congo Celebrates 70 Years of Creating Art

Vibrant and bold-colored oil paintings and cartoon-like interpretations of African culture are only some of the artwork created by the students of the Ecole de Peinture Poto-Poto, one of the most illustrious art schools in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo. Poto translates from the Lingala language as “mud” — in stark contrast to the vibrant palette of the school’s artists alumni whose colorful works of art express and reflect the inner national pride and enthusiasm for their country. The school has produced a host of famous artists who have drawn the gaze of the world to land Congolese art. Located in Moungali, a neighborhood in the capital city, the school of Painting was founded in 1951 and was not only one of the first art institutions in the Congo but also in Central Africa. Today it is sustained by artist-painters and works as a cooperative — teaching students how to communicate and expand their artistic ideas. Mangouandza, who has spent more than 30 years in the school studying and teaching, finds helping new generations to discover the value of Congolese art very fulfilling. Like other cultural institutions in the world, the school has been affected by the pandemic. Crisis can often bring opportunities and like many schools and universities around the world, they’ve turned to the internet for help. The Ecole de Peinture Poto-Poto has submitted a project to UNESCO to sell paintings online in Congo and abroad.