In 1972, Chéri Samba left school in order to embark on an apprenticeship with the sign painters on Kasa-Vubu Avenue in Kinshasa. From this circle of artists (Moke, Cheik Ledy, among others), arose one of the most vibrant schools of popular painting in the twentieth century. Working both as a billboard painter and a comic strip artist, Samba employed the conventions of both genres, yet was forced to resort to painting on sacking cloth when canvas became unaffordable.
Samba’s paintings of this period reveal his keen perception of the social, political, economic, and cultural realities of Zaire – now Democratic Republic of Congo – and expose facets of everyday life in Kinshasa. His canvases present an ongoing commentary that is reflective of popular customs, sexuality, health, social inequalities and corruption. Group exhibitions include Essentiel Paysage, Musée d’Art Contemporain Africain Al Maaden (MACAAL), Marrakech (2016–17) and Beauté Congo – 1926–2015 – Congo Kitoko, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2015).