1928, Angola – 1997, Democratic Republic of Congo
Depara came to photography almost by accident. To record his wedding in 1950 he bought himself a small Adox camera – after which he never ceased to seek out new subjects for his lens. Settling in Kinshasa in 1951, Depara at first combined his photography with various small jobs: repairing bicycles and cameras, dealing in scrap metal. In 1954 the celebrated Zairian singer Franco invited him to become his official photographer, launching Depara’s career as a chronicler of Kinshasa’s social life. Night owls particularly fascinated him and with his flash he captured an Africa stripped of conventional social codes. Depara died leaving his archive of hundreds of negatives untitled; with the permission of the artist’s family, his close friend Oscar Mbemba has titled the works in the spirit of the era.
Depara. Paris Kinshasha, 1975.