Born in 1980, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo Lives and works in France
Jean-Paul Nsimba Mika became interested in drawing at the age of 13. He began by making decorations on the walls of shops, copies of movie posters, in bars where all the blue, red, yellow lights ... give him the strength of color. In 2005, he enrolled in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts of Kinshasa from which he graduated in 2007. He then began to attend the studio of the artist Chéri Chérin who became his "master": "The teachers wanted to direct us towards abstraction but that did not say anything to me... For me there was no emotion. I knew the 'popular artist' Chéri Chérin by reputation, but had never met him. One evening, by chance, I found myself sitting next to him in a cab that went to Masina 'quartier 1 sans fil' where we lived. After this meeting, I went to see him at night when I had finished my classes and became his assistant. He perfected his technique and joined the APPO, the Association of Popular Painters. In 2004 he created his own workshop, EBA (Evénement des Beaux-arts). J-P Mika gradually emancipates himself from the master Chéri Chérin, and abandons the narrative to evolve towards the simplification of his compositions. Opting for very colorful backgrounds, painting on weaves with floral patterns that evoke the wallpapers of yesteryear: "In my painting, there is no news, no political message, no criticism. There are too many difficulties and misery in life. That's why I want you to always feel hope in my paintings.
Mika often stages himself in his works, painting self-portraits or integrating himself into a group composition. In recent years, he has developed his own style, focusing on the portrait - he simplifies the staging and uses colorful patterned fabrics as a background. This "finding" and the perfect use of color give an energy to his work that now stands out profoundly from the works of his peers. His very realistic compositions are no less benevolent and whatever his subject, he paints with gentleness and tenderness a modern, dynamic and joyful Africa. He is inspired by daily life, by Kinshasa and its inhabitants, but also by historical events such as the independence of his country. Animated by his faith in God, the artist works on the feeling of joy through the themes of love or laughter. In view of the "difficulties and miseries of life", this joy invokes a certain utopia: JP Mika's flowery canvases are the expression of pure happiness, emanating from the positive, gentle and tender energy of contemporary Africa. The happiness of being and living are found in the colors as well as in the figure of the sapper, mystical incarnation of an animated Kinshasa.
Collection Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway
Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris, France C.A.A.C. - The Pigozzi Collection, Geneva, Switzerland Farida & Henri Seydoux Collection Fondation Blachère, Apt, France Fondation Alliances, Casablanca, Morocco