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A ballpoint pen devotee whose work has been included in the Bic contemporary art collection, Tsham pays tribute to African statuary in compositions of unusual skill.

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© Azgard Itambo 2021

Born in 1963 in Lubunz in Eastern Kasai (DRC). Lives in Kinshasa.

Raymond Tsham Mateng graduated from ABA Kinshasa in 1989. This unique artist uses ballpoint pens to create his artworks. Tsham uses a simple black Bic to draw masks and statues from Congo and elsewhere on drawing paper; with most of his artworks containing a cornucopia of these images. Why does he depict indigenous arts? “Because they are the best of what Africa has to offer the world!” Having worked solely with black ballpoints for over two decades, Tsham is reintroducing colour into his works. Watercolours and crayons now tint the backgrounds or highlight figures.

Tsham is by nature discrete and meticulous. He does not often leave his studio but nevertheless is open to others and the world at large. The news inspires his work and he always has his radio tuned to an international station. Now and then this tireless worker allows himself a moment of relaxation and indulges in the pleasures of painting. His canvases reveal a surprising audacity. However, Tsham truly excels when drawing and depicting African statues. His work is beyond compare and is both aesthetic and meaningful, celebrating the past and the present.

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