The Artsy Vanguard 2020: Cinga Samson

Daria Simone Harper
Sep 11, 2020 8:00PM

Cinga Samson

B. 1986, Cape Town. Lives and works in Cape Town.

Cinga Samson, A presence in the Air 3, 2019. © Cinga Samson. Courtesy of blank projects, Cape Town.

Cinga Samson, Diced pineapples 1, 2017. © Cinga Samson. Courtesy of blank projects, Cape Town.


In the past few years, painter Cinga Samson has been featured in shows from Minneapolis to Berlin and held four solo exhibitions at Cape Town gallery Blank Projects. In February, he mounted his first solo exhibition with Perrotin in New York, featuring his large-scale oil paintings that unearth the endless dichotomies of our world—the enigmatic and the familiar, the temporal and the uncanny. Samson frequently paints himself, but emphasizes that his work is also representative of his Cape Town community.

Samson’s paintings evoke deep feelings of mystery, particularly in regard to his characters—most of whom have only white slits for eyes, appearing as though they’re in a trance-like state. These figures are often accompanied by cultural markers that ground them in the present. In iRhorho 6 (2019), for example, the central figure stands with one hand raised and a pair of Converse All Star sneakers slung over his left shoulder.

Samson’s deserved rise in the art world doesn’t show signs of slowing soon. In November 2020, he will be featured in a group show, “WHO ARE WE ARE WHO,” at Braunsfelder in Cologne, Germany. Meanwhile, blank projects and the FLAG Art Foundation in New York are both planning to present solo shows of the artist’s work in 2021.

The Artsy Vanguard 2020

The Artsy Vanguard 2020 is our annual list of the most promising artists shaping the future of contemporary art. This year, artists are organized into two categories: Newly Emerging, which presents artists who’ve gained momentum in the past year, showing at leading institutions and galleries; and Getting Their Due, which identifies artists who have persevered for decades, yet only recently received the spotlight they deserve. Now in its third edition, the feature was developed by the Artsy staff, in collaboration with our network of international curators and art professionals. Explore more of The Artsy Vanguard 2020.

Daria Simone Harper

Header and thumbnail image, from left to right: Cinga Samson, “Izilo zomlambo 3,” 2019; Portrait of Cinga Samson. Courtesy of Established Africa; Cinga Samson, “Ivory (iv),” 2018; Cinga Samson, “Isibawu 3,” 2019. All artwork images: © Cinga Samson. Courtesy of the artist and Blank Projects, Cape Town.