Henri Kalama was born and raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he received his academic artistic training in painting. He later moved to China where he spent six years and completed a master in arts. Henri, relatively early on, has moved towards abstraction with a particular focus on colors, which he sees as a main channel for emotions. While he stills lives and works in the Congo, he is representative of a trend that aims to evolve from certain stereotypes in what is generally considered as "African" art.
"Humanity is moving to a point of connection, a planet village, a boundless world - all of which I want to express with my work. The all connecting languages are music and art - both of which express and invoke feelings which everybody understands, no matter where they come from.
The umbrella term which I use for my work is "cosmic vibrations". I am convinced that there are some things - words, emotions and spirituality- that can't be transmitted through human languages, but only through colors. Different tones of colors, to me, are the carriers of different feelings which can only be expressed through art - painting or music. Through my painting, I am trying to make those feelings and visions "readable" by people from cultures all over the word. No matter from which cultural, educational or political background the viewers of my paintings come, I believe that they will understand what I am trying to express when creating said work.
My work has been influenced by my stay in China as well as the numerous trips that I have taken around the world and I consider myself an international artist. Being of African origin, I see it as my mission to fight against the clichés associated to African Art and the pervasive representations of Africa (tribal or primitive works around such subjects as masks or wild animals) many still expect from "African Artists". Very often those works are produced to meet expectations from the outside, and rely on a misunderstanding or a wish for the perpetuation of an "exotic dream" (whereas masks, for example, do not exist in today's everyday life in Africa). As a result, the very term of "African Art" reflects on certain stereotypes in art - as a primitive one. However, no one would think of referring to "European Artists" in general and an artist would typically called by his name, or "an artist" I am, therefore, working constantly to improve people's awareness of the implied (unconscious) "primitive art" expectations when referring to "African Art". In helping to open minds, I am also certain that this will contribute to liberate a certain form of creativity with Artists of African origin - one that can actually help African people and countries develop in their own way as well."