How to spread joy through art?

Art Kelen
4 min readOct 24, 2020


Meet the painter JP Mika’s!

With his paintings that spread joy and good humor, JP Mika is emerging today in the sphere of big names in Congolese painting such as Chéri Samba, Bodo, Chéri Cherin, Shula, Chéri Benga, Moké fils.

Jean-Paul Nsimbe Mika was born in 1980 in Kinshasa in a poor family. Very early on, he began to monetize his artistic talent and at the age of 13, to earn a living, he painted murals, billboards, advertisements for music groups in his neighborhood:

“It fed me , but also my little brothers and sisters. It’s my way. I like to help others. We were poor but, at the same time, we were also rich ”.

Despite many financial difficulties during his secondary studies, he obtained his State diploma in commercial and administrative studies. His income from billboards sales allowed him to finance his higher studies in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kinshasa; he graduated in 2007.

Meeting with emblematic figures of Congolese painting

Then he met the father of Congolese painting “Chéri Chérin” who took him under his wing. Through his master, he met the other emblematic figure of Congolese painting, Chéri Samba. In 2008, JP Mika was selected to accompany Chéri Chérin at an exhibition in Bilbao, Spain. This is the first step towards international recognition.

In 2011, he presented the series “Deux temps deux modes” in which he confronted past and present fashions by featuring animals in line with the popular style which is fond of animal representations. For a long time he was influenced by the themes, compositions and techniques of his elders.

Deux temps deux modes

Joy and beauty

Gradually, he developed his own style which set him apart from other artists. He will choose portraits and opt for canvases with very colorful backgrounds or fabrics with floral patterns that evoke the wallpapers of yesteryear. He is also very attached to details which he was criticized for during his studies in fine arts. The flowers very present in his universe represent, according to him, a symbol of joy. His paintings are often large and this technique gives an energy and a unique character to his works. Through his paintings, he wishes to show joy, hope and happiness!

The “Beauté Congo” exhibition at the Cartier Foundation in 2015 marked an important career turning point.

The optimism

JP Mika also celebrates Fidelity, Divine greatness, The Lovers, but above all “Sango Malamu”, the good news.

Sango Malamu (La Bonne Nouvelle), 2019

“With us, there may be someone who has no means, but he is happy,” he said. This is really a special feature. Me, even if I am in difficulty, I remain happy. With this painting, I say: Even if someone has lost hope, good news can still come. This work announces the good news to everyone. “

Even when he touches on serious themes, JP Mika strives to sublimate the existence of human beings. In Migratory Disease, he focuses on the reunion of an immigrant couple, with a baby who discovers his father:

“I represent the joy of seeing each other again. I didn’t want to show all the difficulties behind it. I like to give people hope and joy.”

Maladie immigratoire, 2019

In 2019, he presented his first solo exhibition outside Africa, at the Magnin-A gallery in Paris. The title “Bisengo” which means joy wonderfully reflects the artworks presented: joy, enchantment and inventiveness!

JP Mika Autoportrait d’hier et d’aujourd’hui, 2019



Art Kelen

Promotion de l’Art Africain