Art is where we belong



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Size 38 cm
Material Wood
Origin D.R. Congo

This mask represents a beautiful synthesis of two of the greatest artistic expressions in Central Africa: the sensuous beauty of Luba, and the fascinating strength of Songye art.

The combination of both styles is typical for the border area between both people and has historic origins. As mentioned by Kerchache in his notes (1993, 576): "The history of the [Songye] is closely linked to the Luba's, to whom they are related through common ancestors.

According to tradition, Kongolo, the founder of the first Luba empire in the sixteenth century, was a [Songye]." It belongs to a small group of masks presenting the same features: a prominent forehead overhanging the concave face, covered with meticulously applied bas-relief stripes going from the edge to the bisecting nose line, making it the central point of tension.

Among this group of masks, we can cite the exemplar from the Bronson collection, or the one auctioned by Sotheby's in New York in May 2011. The one which bears most resemblance to this mask has been sold by Hélène Leloup in the 1970s to an American collector and was presented in the 2000s by Didier Claes Gallery.



Probably collected in the 1920s by a Belgian colonial

Old Colonial collection, Belgium

Paul Gilman, Liège in the 1980s

Galerie Pierre Dartevelle, Brussels in the late 1980s

Henricus Simonis, Düsseldorf
In 1996, the African art dealer Mr. Simonis curated, in collaboration with the modern art gallery Heimeshoff, an exhibition of African and modern art in the famous Unesco World Heritage industrial Zollverein in Essen. They chose this very mask as the lead object of the exhibition and it figured on the exhibition poster.

Galerie Didier Claes, Brussels

Important private collection, Belgium


Afrika auf Zollverein, Summer 1996, Essen, Germany, Poster.


Afrika auf Zollverein, Summer 1996, Essen, Germany