ANA Spotlight

ANA Spotlight: Cinthia Sifa Mulanga, Painter

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Cinthia Sifa Mulanga is an independent artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Born in 1997 in Lubumbashi, in the DRC Mulanga was initially trained as a printmaker but soon gravitated towards painting and collage and these two have become the mediums that have come to define her practice.

At its core, Mulanga’s art challenges 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 while on the other, it is symbolic an extension of the individual. The space embodies the human as 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 Mulanga highlights the nuances and complexities of a Black woman’s identity in today’s world.

Cinthia Sifa Mulanga, ‘The Magazines’, 2021, Painting, Mixed media on canvas, OSART GALLERY
Cinthia Sifa Mulanga, The Magazines 2021, Mixed media on canvas, 21 7/10 × 29 1/2 in | 55 × 75 cm, Image courtesy of Arsy

The visual references and influences in Mulanga’s work 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 contextualisation. 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 collaborated with the nonconformist South African brand L’MAD as well as Alessandro Michele, who is the 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.

Cinthia Sifa Mulanga, ‘Self-sureness’, 2021, Mixed Media, Mixed media on stretched canvas, UN Women Benefit Auction
Cinthia Sifa Mulanga, Self-sureness, 2021, Mixed media on stretched canvas, 33 1/10 × 46 1/2 in | 84 × 118 cm, Image courtesy of Artsy

Mulanga’s solo exhibitions include her 2023 exhibitions titled ‘Giants’ at the Latitudes Centre for the Arts in Johannesburg; as well as ‘Embrace: A Path to Growth and Contentment’ at the Bode Projects in Berlin, Germany. In 2022 Mulanga showcased ‘In The Becoming’ at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg. Outside of South Africa, she has shown her exhibition titled ‘Intimate Spaces’ at African Arty in partnership with Latitudes Online in Casablanca, Morocco. In terms of group exhibitions, Mulanga was part of the 2021 ‘I love who you are, I love who you ain’t’ exhibition curated by Wunika Mukan, which showed at the Bill Brady Gallery in Miami, the USA. That same year she was part of the ‘Mother of Mankind’ exhibition curated by Adora Mba, which showed at the House of Fine Art in London, UK. Lastly, Mulanga was part of the 2021 exhibition titled ‘A Force for Change’ which was presented by the UN Women at the Agora Gallery in New York, the USA.

Cinthia Sifa Mulanga, ‘For once, I long for summer’, 2023, Painting, Acrylic paint, charcoal and collage on canvas, Bode
Cinthia Sifa Mulanga, For once, I long for summer, 2023, Acrylic paint, charcoal and collage on canvas, 29 4/5 × 29 4/5 × 1 2/5 in | 75.8 × 75.8 × 3.5 cm, Image courtesy of Artsy


Lelethu Sobekwa was born in Gqeberha, South Africa. She holds a BA Honours in English and an MA in Creative Writing with distinction from Rhodes University. Lelethu currently writes for Art Network Africa.

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