Working in the heady days of national independence, Jean Depara was not just a photographer but also a playboy who loved bars, dance halls, and women. Although he moonlighted as a shoemaker, and watch and camera repairer, and shot portraits in his studio out of necessity, his real love was go out with his camera and flash to photograph the nightlife of Leopoldville (now Kinshasa). After twenty-five years of guerrilla terror, Kinshasa today is barely recognizable as the crazy, joyful town in Depara’s photographs.
Born in 1928 (Angola) – died in 1997 (Kinshasa, D.R.Congo)
Active in Leopoldville / Kinshasa from 1951 to 1975
Exceptional photographer of outside-nights and other fashion places in Leopoldville between 1955 – 1965, in the years of independence of the former Belgian Congo – Zaire.
Jean Depara, photographer in Leopoldville (DRCongo) between 1951-1975, shares his night life in the streets and bars, dance halls, and in day in athletic clubs and sports complex pool ‘La Funa’ of the capitale.
Jean Loup Pivin met Jean Depara end of 1995 working on publishing of the magazine RN 21 Kinshasa, where his photographs were published for the first time, before other books as his monograph ‘Depara, Night & Day in Kinshasa’ in 2010. Then aged 67 years, Depara had stopped to photograph since 1989 but he was still vivid and lively as in his youth. Depara is not hiding he was himself one of those turbulent youths, limit bad boy, frequenting bars and dance halls, drinking beer Primus and flirting with easy girls, dressing themselves as Bill, the American western movies cowboys fashion, practicing bodybuilding like the peplum movies, during this exceptional moment for years 1955-1965 when the Belgian Congo will gain independence and later became Zaire and its capital Kinshasa.
Depara simply photograph is own life. And no other African photographer has gone so far in the accuracy of the reality of this time.