Art from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other central African countries, such as Cameroon and the Ivory Coast, have been a part of curatorial conversations surrounding contemporary African art in Europe since they started gaining traction in museums from the mid-noughties. Due to the colonial ties with France and Belgium and a shared language, more narrow, regionally focussed exhibitions establishing contemporary artists from those regions took place in those European countries. Among others such exhibitions included, Popular Painting (curated by Bambi Ceuppens and Sammy Baloji) at the Bozar for popular Fine Arts in Brussels) and the Beauté Congo 1926-2015 Congo Kitoko curated by Andre Magin for the Foundation Cartier in Paris, Popular Painting From Kinshasa, showed at the Tate Modern.
This established a market for the artists that were repeatedly included in those shows and quickly translated into them featuring on auctions in London and Paris offering African art. As a result, high-profile European collections dedicated to art from the African continent almost always include works by those first-generation contemporary artists from the Congo or Ivory Coast who came to define this 'category'. Yet, in South Africa, exposure to art from the DRC and other central and West African ones has been limited.
Few works by artists from these regions have been shown at exhibitions. As such collectors are paying attention to the upcoming Aspire Art Auctions sale taking place in Cape Town on March 16 as it includes many works by celebrated artists from central and west Africa with largely proven auction records. With works by older generation artists - Frédéric Bruly Bouabré (Ivory Coast), Pilipili Mulongoy (Congo), Roger Botembe Mimbayi (DRC) and Chéri Cherin to a younger set including, Joseph Eze, William Chechet (both from Nigeria), Arim Andrew(Uganda) and Zemba Luzamba (DRC).