When we say ‘growth’ and ‘contentment’ we immediately think of light, calm, honesty, joy, peace, love, stillness, solitude, warm smile, silent seduction, change, confidence with the now and hope for the better. It’s like the sun hitting the highest tree and lowest grass.
- Cinthia Sifa Mulanga
Bode is pleased to present Embrace: Path to Growth and Contentment, Cinthia Sifa Mulanga's first European solo exhibition. Cinthia Sifa Mulanga investigates the individual’s relationship with space, ultimately exploring moments in time in which a person’s inner and outer worlds meet. This is Mulanga’s first body of work that actively engages with the world outside of domestic settings; the soft scenes depicted through the windows of the pieces are reflective of hope, a gentle optimism about the future and desire or readiness for exploration and expansion.
The romanticized architecture of spaces depicted by Mulanga features prominent Roman arcades, inspired by Modern interior design; the long shadows and illogical perspectives immediately bring the works of the surrealists’ predecessor, Giorgio de Chirico, to mind. Similarly manifested in the surrealist vision, space works on multiple levels in Mulanga’s artworks; on the one hand, it represents the space itself and, on the other, it is symbolic as an extension of the individual. The space literally 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.
Each work operates as a multi-perspectival portrait wherein the women’s surroundings are reflective of their state of mind. The golden thread that gleams throughout every piece is a sense of confidence achieved through radical self-acceptance; the artist posits that in order to engage with one’s outer world in a meaningful way, one first needs to “dress” their inner world. The role of the domestic spaces masterfully shapeshifts, yet again, to represent a collection of objects and experiences accumulated in pursuit of true contentment.
Mulanga’s paintings are infused with small, meaningful details. Her pieces often incorporate African masks, referencing the masks worn by Congolese women in coming-of-age ceremonies. Simultaneously, their inclusion raises questions around art restitution, cultural appropriation and, ultimately, belonging. The viewers are invited to explore these inner and outer worlds created by the artist, interpreting the infinite meanings embedded therein.
Cinthia Sifa Mulanga (b. 1997 in Democratic Republic of the Congo) is an independent artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mulanga trained as an artist in print-making at the Artist Proof Studio in Johannesburg. She has participated in a variety of exhibitions which includes her solo exhibition In The Becoming at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg (2022). The artist has taken part in group exhibitions at Bill Brady Gallery, Miami (2021); exhibition Liminality in Infinite Space curated by Azu Ngwaghugo (2020); UN Women – A Force for Change, Agora Gallery, NYC (2021), among others. Mulanga has been recognised for her work by the Norval Foundation for the Norval Sovereign African Art Prize (2023); The British Fashion Council’s New wave Creatives and collaborated with Fashion House Gucci, to reimagine the iconic Diana Tote Bag (2022). Latitudes Online act as the artist’s agents.