'Ngoski na Niska'


Signed lower left


Oil on canvas, 65 x 51 cm


The present painting, together with nine other paintings by Naiken, was exhibited in Napels 1934-1935, in the Belgian colonial exhibition Il Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Coloniale, Exposizione d’Arte Coloniale Belga, described and named “Ngoski na Niska” on p. 226 of the exhibition catalogue and on stickers at the reverse of the frame and canvas stretcher.

In La Revue Coloniale Belge no. 31, 15 Jan. 1947, Albert François in his article “Leopoldville Centre d’Art” describes Winand Naiken as “Peintre de talent, d’une grande modestie, le Verviétois Naiken, conduit l’amateur d’art en dehors des sentiers très fréquentés du paysage africain. Consciencieusement, il met en page des soignées, sans empâtement, d’excellente qualité. Usant d’une bonne palette où les ors, les bruns et les vert se marient souvent comme par enchantement, ses tonalités et son dessin sont non seulement justes mais bien étudiés. Ses notamment, ne concèdent rien à la facilité. Ils sont Fouillés et d’une technique sûre, robuste et personelle. D’emblée ils classent W. Naiken parmi les meilleurs figuristes congolais”.


Naiken, based in Léopoldville, the centre of art and cultural life in Belgian Congo, was one of the Belgian “Africaniste”, European travelling painters and sculptors depicting Africans, African landscapes and African still lifes’. He is best known for his portraits of members of the Mangbetu tribe in the Congo. Naiken’s still life painting shows several objects he would have encountered during his travels through the Republic of Congo; at the top the hide of a common Genet cat (Genetta genetta), along the sides the skin of a python, at the bottom right a tooth of a hippopotamus and the shell of an African tortoise, the shield and figure in the middle of the painting are both probably from the Nsheng tribe in central Congo.


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