Chéri Samba’s J’aime la couleur series — undoubtably his most famous — is an unabashed celebration of colour as a lifeline of humanity. Presenting a spiral-headed self-portrait, Samba incorporates his characteristic use of text, bold colours, and glitter in order to catch the attention of passersby, forcing them to stop and focus on his creation. The inscription in the lower left corner reads:

‘The head must a little like a spiral in order to recognize what surrounds us. I love colour. Everything that surrounds us is colour. We are colour. Colour is life. Long live colour!!’

The present lot features a rare black background, most works in this series are executed in shades of bright blue. A larger version of this black painting was sold by Sotheby’s in April 2019 and currently holds the record for the second highest selling work by Chéri Samba at auction.

A trained billboard artist and founding member of the Zaire School of Popular Painting, Samba creates works which are not only accessible to the public, but also serve the public. Chéri Samba’s practice centers on the perfect balance of irony and humour.

‘My project is a critical one; I play with humour of course, but the real point is to give a critical portrayal of the way people live’
Chéri Samba a restrospective, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, p. 8