Sungi Mlengeya is a Tanzanian self taugut artist. She explores ‘space’ in her work, the white space in her paintings being any place that we are longing for. For her, the space represents a place of calm, free and detached from social norms and restrictions, real and imagined, that have altered complete liberty. She is inspired by everyday lives of women who surround her as they try to pursue their true preferences freely and uninhibitedly.
Sungi works primarily in the acrylic medium on canvas creating paintings that are free, minimalist and with a curious use of negative space. The works consist of dark figures in minimal shades of black and browns against perfectly white backgrounds with topics varying widely from self-discovery to empowerment, but common themes in her work are centred around women, specifically black women. She shades a light on their stories; their journeys, struggles, accomplishments and relationships with their immediate societies, her stories included.
“My love for art began from an early age at our home in Serengeti where my sister and I would go through the craft pages of my mother’s Woman’s Value magazines looking for something interesting to make. Living inside a national park with electricity only available in the evenings, we would spend all day cutting paper and making crafts in our designated former storage room turned craft room.”
“I now spend most of my time painting anywhere I can, being on the road reminds me of freedom and possibilities. My painting sessions are long mostly silent emotional moments of reflection on this and that as I work.”