Goodman Gallery presents In The Becoming, Cinthia Sifa Mulanga’s first solo exhibition in South Africa, featuring new paintings that reflect on Black beauty. Mulanga’s paintings present interior spaces occupied by Black women, reflecting on personal experience as well as social pressures and projections placed on women of colour. Featured works include the recent addition of natural exterior elements and interrogates ideas around beauty, consumerism and the Black body within an Afropolitan context.
Mulanga’s paintings present multiple characters who grapple with idealised and racialised ideas around female expression while attempting to reach beyond imposed constructs and self-define. The portrayal of plant life signifies an engagement with the wider world that projects these ideas. These works reflect the artist’s personal journey of becoming:
The moments I create in domestic spaces are dialogues between perceived beauty standards, and stereotypes which function to both challenge and embrace Black women. The Barbie doll, a primary inspiration in my work, is used with other feminine objects or symbols with associations to Black women, representing thoughts, misconceptions, perceptions and emotions. These spaces allow me to create conversations and interrogate notions of beauty – Mulanga
A unifying component to this new body of work is the recurring appearance of a geometric floor, which heightens the warping of architectural spaces. Perspective is distorted most prominently in Mold me II (2022) where the interiors appear as if pulled towards the centre of the image, mimicking a fisheye lens.
Dream-like and aspirational elements, such as a character with multiple heads, bring a surrealist approach to the work which gestures towards the mental state of the characters. Collage effects, detailed depictions of plant life and the use of shadows all point to an exploration of realistic features to push against the imaginative and contorted appearance of the spaces.