« Just Disruptions », a first independent exhibition that welcomes a close and insightful look at the works of artist Sungi Mlengeya.
Between unique style, finding a kind of harmony between lack and richness, which turns into power, through Sungi Mlengeya‘s creative decisions and activist point of view, for the legitimate presence and representation of women in East Africa and beyond.
Sungi Mlengeya places her characters across the blank spaces, disregarding the individual and societal assumptions that guide an organization of hard narratives about the lived and embodied encounters of women of color. These white spaces can be used to perceive freedom as something unnatural – something natural, but obscure.
The pressure between the distant dream and the present, inauspicious void (the fog) manifests itself in her work, urging us, the observers, to begin with one phase of progress and then move to the next. Here the change occurs in a direct forward movement. Sungi Mlengeya acquires the sameness of change to reveal the complexity of unloading the visible and undetectable layers that envelop gender issues in East Africa.
Sungi Mlengeya‘s works resonate, allowing for her in-depth investigation of equity as a diverse issue. By essentially focusing her subjects to draw our attention, the artist invites us to disrupt our regulative belief that typically minimizes individuals of color, as the entry point into her work is disparate.
This component of disclosure is projected through the exhibition space in “Just Disruptions,” mapped on the floor in closed rooms. Each cell contains a second during the time spent changing, a fundamental step forward in the progress to come, towards value and reinforcement. A tempered flow in reality mimics the interaction of biological transformation. You enter a space, your absorption and growth with this understanding leads you to another instant of change.
Sungi Mlengeya reduces the language of feminism in East Africa to its absolute minimum, eliminating the language used by colonial promotion structures in their effort to co-select development towards equity. What we see is the authentic and unique portrait of a woman, particular in her personhood and inclusive in her humanity. The reverberation of Sungi Mlengeya‘s work is a demonstration of the depth with which she studies the diversity of equity issues. By drastically focusing the subject of our attention, we are invited to disrupt our normative belief that minimizes black women.
Her works offer a snapshot of examination and invite an exchange with ourselves – where we stand on the scale of equity and duty. The body of work presented in the exhibition “Just Disruptions” denotes a shift in her practice. It is a prologue from top to bottom to the dynamism of women in her artworks, in their ability to move and occupy space. As an exhibition in her country, “Just Disruptions” will be a rich terrain that invigorates the African imagination scene.
Who is Sungi Mlengeya?
Sungi Mlengeya is a self-taught Tanzanian artist who works primarily in acrylic on canvas and creates free and restrained paintings with a curious use of negative space. These works consist of faint figures in insignificant shades of black and brown on entirely white backgrounds.
The subjects vary widely, from self-revelation to empowerment, but the usual themes of her work involve women, particularly women of color. She presents their stories, their journeys, their struggles, their achievements, and their connections to neighboring social orders, including her own.
Sungi Mlengeya investigates space in her work, the empty area of her canvases addressing any place we aspire to. For her, space is a position of calm, free and disconnected from accepted practices and limitations, real or imagined, that have altered all possibilities. She is stimulated by the daily life of the women around her who try to go to the meeting of their real inclinations, without inhibition and without hindrance.
These works are in numerous collections and have been exhibited worldwide at Afriart Gallery, The Medium is the Message & Drawn Together Unit London, Black Voices: Friend of My Mind Ross-Sutton Gallery, 1-54 Highlights Christie’s London, 1-54 Art Fair London and New York, Investec Cape Town Art Fair, Latitudes Art Fair and Nairobi Railways Museum.