Cinga Samson redefines masculinity in his paintings
The paintings of self-taught artist Cinga Samson (b. 1986, Cape Town) address themes of youth, blackness, masculinity and spirituality against the backdrop of post-colonial South Africa. Figurative self-portraits, the works depict the artist posed in front of landscapes that are surreal composites of his own fantasies and the topography of South Africa.
The formal composition of the paintings lend them a traditional, almost anachronistic feeling that is interrupted by the artist’s contemporary clothes, intricately patterned fabrics often bearing the insignia of fake fashion brands commonly found at local street markets. The artist’s focus on beauty is also manifested in the plants, flowers and accessories that his subjects hold or are surrounded by. Samson’s works speak to his pride as a young African man, while at the same time a looming darkness permeates the paintings, suggestive of something more ominous.
We had the chance to meet the artist in his current studio in Cape Town. Discover this meeting in the video below.
Cinga Samson is a very touching, sensitive and sincere visual artist. It was with an extreme timidity and softness that he told us that his works are the result of a questioning about masculinity and Africanity, a questioning above all aesthetic without any real search for an answer. He shared with us a personal conviction and the role that art can play in our contemporary societies, although his art is not involved in any political or racial movement.
To date, Samson has held three solo exhibitions at blank projects: Safari Fantasy (2017), Ubugqoboka Magqoboka (2016) and Thirty Pieces of Silver (2015). He has participated in several group shows, including Mapping Black Identities (Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, 2019); Hacer Noche (Centro Cultural Santo Domingo, Oaxaca de Juarez, 2018); open agenda (blank projects, Cape Town, 2018); A Painting Today (Stevenson, Cape Town, 2017); In the night I remember (Stevenson, Johannesburg, 2013); Our Fathers (AVA Gallery, Cape Town, 2012) and Strata at Greatmore Studios in Cape Town (2011), where he completed a residency. In 2017, Samson won the prestigious Tollman Award, and in 2018 he exhibited with Nicholas Hlobo at the Maitland Institute, in a two-person show titled Umthamo.