On the occasion of artist Paulo Kapela’s premature passing due to COVID-19, Collection Caixa Geral de Depósitos is highlighting one of his works, which has been in the Collection since 2003. Untitled (n.d.) comprises 39 gouache on cardboard drawings revealing, in small postcards, the African native societies peaceful day to day life. By using minute notes of primary colours – mostly blue, yellow and red, but also green and black – the artist unveils, on an idyllic note, the occupations and way of life of the populations and their rapport with animals and nature. These little scenes carry a certain irony within as they enclose stereotypes of innocence and naivety of the colonized populations. In spite of the Portuguese occupation, the colonial war and the ensuing civil war, these distant and blissful scenes that have long vanished still inhabit the collective imaginary. Throughout his career Kapela created several politically charged collage artworks by combining various objects and images of different sources – profane and religious, old and contemporary, artistic and utilitarian – in an attempt to reconcile European and African cultures, so as to bring history into a new context and to be able to restructure the present. This delicate balance between conflicting and fracturing elements brings out the generous quality of Kapela’s work towards the coming generations in search for a future yet to come.

A self-taught artist, Kapela began painting at the Poto-Poto School, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, in 1960. He has lived in Luanda since 1989, working in the UNAP (National Union of Visual Artists) studio complex situated in a derelict building in the city centre. He received the Ciciba (International Centre for the Bantu Civilizations) Award, Brazzaville, in 2003, and won the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Environment of Angola’s National Culture and Arts Prize (PNCA) in the Visual Arts category, in 2020. His work has recently been presented at important international exhibitions, a testimony to the relevance of his creations in Angola as well as abroad. He participated in the Mais a Sul exhibition at Culturgest, Lisbon, in 2004. His work was part of the touring exhibition Africa Remix, shown at the Museum Kunst Palast, Dusseldorf, the Hayward Gallery, London, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo and at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in Johannesburg. He was one of the artists chosen to represent Angola at the Venice Biennale, for the exhibition Check List – Luanda Pop, in 2007. He participated in the exhibition Luanda Smooth and Rave, at the Bordeaux Biennale, in 2009. His work was also part of No Fly Zone, an exhibition of the Luanda Triennial, at the Museu Berardo, Lisbon, in 2013.

Paulo Kapela
Untitled
s.d.
Gouache on cardboard
39 drawings (variable dimensions)
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