Jean-Paul Nsimba Mika was born in Kinshasa in 1980 and showed signs of talent as a child. By the time he was 13, he was earning an income painting billboards and designing film posters. In 2005, he began studying at the Academy of Fine Arts, and a well-known artist in Kinshasa, Chéri Chérin, took him under his wing. Thanks in part to this support, Mika had an exhibition in a gallery in Bilbao when he was still a newcomer.
Like Chérin, Mika became part of the Popular Art Movement of Kinshasa, a group of artists who portrayed daily life in the capital and attracted a local and international following. They were also associated with the École du Congo - AAPPO (Artists Association of Painters of the Popular Style). One reviewer wrote appreciatively, “These are the things you see and encounter on a busy street, such as a man holding an alligator as he crosses the street. It is a celebration of his city and culture.”
Like artists from the generation preceding him - Chérin and Chéri Samba - Mika frequently includes prominent people in his paintings, and his work sometimes has political overtones. His paintings appeared in the "Beauté Congo" exhibition at the Fondation Cartier in 2015, an important milestone in bringing his work to broader attention. Since then his work has been in several other exhibitions at the Fondation Cartier, as well as in many other galleries and museums in Europe and Africa. His paintings are also in many private collections.
• Cheri-Cherin (Kinkonda Joseph). Bahai Library. https://bahai-library.com/bafa/c/cherin.htm.
• Gallery Angalia, Paris. https://galerie-angalia.com/fr/category/publications/jp-mika/.
• Juliette Lyons. “La Sape : an elegance that brought peace in the midst of Congolese chaos”. Le Journal International, May 12, 2014. Accessed March 15, 2023. https://www.lejournalinternational.fr/La-Sape-an-elegance-that-brought-peace-in-the-midst-of-Congolese-chaos_a1871.html.
• JP Mika. Piasa. Artists. https://www.piasa.fr/en/artists/JP-Mika.
• Magnin-A Gallery, Paris. https://www.magnin-a.com/en/artists/23-jp-mika/biography/.
• Melanie Kembrey. “Strutting with La Sape: Tariq Zaidi captures the extraordinary”. The Sydney Morning Herald, May 3, 2019. Accessed March 15, 2023. https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/strutting-with-la-sape-tariq-zaidi-captures-the-extraordinary-20190429-p51i7g.html.
• The Jean Pigozzi African Art Collection. http://www.caacart.com/artiste/mika-jp/.