Rhode Bath-Shéba Makoumbou: An authentic African artist

 

Rhode Makoumbou
Rhode Makoumbou

Rhode Bath-Schéba Makoumbou is a prolific and multi-faceted artist. She endeavours to portray a resolutely optimistic true-to-life Africa.Rhode Bath-Schéba Makoumbou was a precocious artist. She was only 8 years old when she became familiar to painting alongside her father, painter David Makoumbou.

Whereas at first the family studio was a playground for the young girl, she quickly acquired an artistic disposition and developed a passion for art. For all that, following her parents’ advice, she didn’t give up her studies and undertook training as a journalist but had to abandon it during the civil war (from 1997 to 1999).


In 2000, Rhode Bath-Schéba Makoumbou returned to her first love: art. In order to ‘make a name for herself,’ she left her native Congo for Gabon, then France, and finally Belgium where she now lives most of the time. Leaving one’s country doesn’t mean disowning one’s roots, on the contrary. If from 2003 Rhode became an internationally recognized artist, she did so by asserting her African identity. She uses a knife for painting, which enables her to achieve the thickness sought.

Rhode Bath-Shéba's Sculptures
Rhode Bath-Shéba's Sculptures

As a sculptress, she uses a metal structure covered with fabric on which she applies a mixture of sawdust and wood glue. Her monumental structures – some three metres high – are greatly influenced by traditional African sculpture. Observant of the African way of life and mores, this artist succeeds in rendering the light which is so specific to the continent. Her sculptures, representing small trades which are dying out, also reflect Congo’s social and cultural background. Western art is not a closed book to Rhode Bath-Schéba Makoumbou and she admits being influenced by realist, cubist and expressionist art.

The artist is resolutely optimistic and her work imparts her values to the public. Notably, she invites the youth of Africa not to give up and calls for greater equality between men and women. The African woman, strong and struggling daily to secure her children’s future – that is Rhode Bath-Schéba Makoumbou’s prime source of inspiration. There is no question of toning down her cultural identity. Rhode rebels against standardisation of the art market. She sees herself as an authentic African and ‘needs to know where she comes from in order to apprehend the future better.