Cinthia Sifa Mulanga
Cinthia Sifa Mulanga (b. 1997, Lubumbashi, DRC) was initially trained as a printmaker but soon gravitated towards painting and collage - the mediums that have come to define her practice.
The core focus of Mulanga’s art is to challenge the representation of Black female subjects by investigating the individual’s relationship with space. Space works on multiple levels in Mulanga’s artworks; on the one hand, it represents the space itself. On the other, it is symbolic as an extension of the individual. The space embodies the human, morphing into an independent protagonist. As is the case with different facets of the human soul, these multi-spaces exist in one moment, inviting one to reflect and interact with them if and when they are ready. It is in these liminal moments that Cinthia Sifa Mulanga highlights the nuances and complexities of a Black woman's identity in today’s world.
Mulanga developed a fascination with the radical self-acceptance and self-confidence that Black women exude despite the systems of white patriarchy that bear down heavily on the conditions set for Black women in accruing visibility, success and confidence. Typically, the artist juxtaposes several different women in her paintings, highlighting the complexities of female identity and the stream of varying consciousnesses that occupy a single space, identity or moment in time. As such, her paintings also operate as multi-perspectival portraits.
This polyphonic character is amplified through the introduction of additional female subjects via the inclusion of painted or collaged artworks on the walls of the rooms occupied by her subjects. These images of women, typically sourced from popular culture or the history of western painting, serve as a reminder of how the strictures of the female gender and beauty are reinforced and bear down on the artist’s subjects. In this way, Mulanga is in conversation with the tradition of western painting, challenging the absence of Black female subjects and the representation of women at the hands of male artists.
The visual references and influences in Mulanga’s oeuvre are largely rooted in her adopted home of South Africa, where she grew up and trained as an artist. At times, Mulanga references well-known artworks produced by her South African contemporaries. They are intended as tributes to their work, and playful acts of recontextualisation. This referential element is also driven by Mulanga’s own desire to plot spaces beyond her reach or that of her viewers. This is further complemented by furniture and decorative pieces that evoke aspirational lifestyles advanced by decor magazines. The clothing and dress that define Mulanga’s subjects are equally important, particularly as they represent their status or identity. The artist has further cemented this sartorial link through collaborations with the iconoclastic South African brand L’MAD and Alessandro Michele, designer of the Gucci Diana tote bag. From this perspective, the complex pictorial planes that Mulanga creates are like vision boards wherein she presents ideal lifestyles enjoyed by Black women, as envisioned by a capitalist society.
2023 Embrace: A Path to Growth and Contentment, Bode Projects, Berlin
2022 In The Becoming, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2021 Intimate Spaces, African Arty in partnership with Latitudes Online, Casablanca, Morocco
2023 When we see us curated by Koyo Kouoh, Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa
2023 Finalists Exhibition, Norval Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa
2022 Shout Plenty curated by Princess Ayoola and Jana Terblanche, African Artist Foundation Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria
2021 ‘I love who you are, I love who you ain’t’ curated by Wunika Mukan, Bill Brady Gallery, Miami, USA
2021 Mother of Mankind curated by Adora Mba, House of Fine Art, London, UK
2021 A Force for Change presented by UN Women, Agora Gallery, New York, USA
2020 liminality in infinite spaces curated by Azu Nwagbogu, Lagos, Nigeria
2020 Eclectic Edition, The Art Room Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2020 The Human Experience curated by Keneilwe Mokoena, The Project Space, Johannesburg, South Africa
2018 animal in distress presented by JSE Deutsche Bank at Graham's Fine Art, Johannesburg, South Africa
2023 RMB Latitudes, Johannesburg, South Africa
2023 Investec Cape Town Art Fair, Bode Projects, Cape Town, South Africa
2022 Investec Cape Town Art Fair, Botho Space, Cape Town, South Africa
2021 AKAA Fair Paris, African Arty, Paris, France
2021 London Art Fair: Edits, African Arty in partnership with Latitudes Online, London, UK
2019 Turbine Art Fair, Louis Khela Maqhubela & Douglas Portway tribute exhibition presented by Artist Proof Studio and Strauss & Co., Johannesburg, South Africa
Awards and Merits
2023 Norval Sovereign African Art Prize finalist, South Africa
2022 British Fashion Council's New Wave Creatives, UK
2019 First prize: the Louis Khela Maqhubela & Douglas Portway tribute, presented by Artist Proof Studio and Strauss & Co., South Africa
2023 Koyo Kouoh, When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting, Thames & Hudson, UK
Select Press and Reviews
2022 Lumumba Mthembu, Journey from Interiority: Cinthia Sifa Mulanga’s ‘In the Becoming’, ArtThrob, South Africa
2022 Mahoro Seward, Meet the emerging fashion creatives of 2022's BFC New Wave, i-D Vice, UK
2022 Palesa Segomotso Motsumi, In the bag: Artist Cinthia Sifa Mulanga, Gucci and Princess Diana, Mail & Guardian, South Africa
2022 Ayla Angelos, Cinthia Mulanga’s mixed-media works interrogate the notion of beauty, It’s Nice That, UK
*Cinthia Sifa Mulanga currently has no available unique works.
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