Goodman Gallery Cape Town 15 September – 20 October 2016
In Misheck Masamvu’s solo exhibition Still Still, the painter expands on a body of work begun in Still at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg from earlier in 2016. The title of the show reflects repetition as a crucial reflex for Masamvu, with motifs and marks being replicated over and over. It is both a nod to the previous exhibition and a statement of progress; the artist growing what he terms his ‘grammar’, through seemingly indefatigable reiterations. This grammar comprises expressive brushwork, chaotic compositions and perpetually altered or mutated figures that he often depicts between states of animal and human.
As a resident Zimbabwean, Masamvu’s work is inevitably situated within the socio-economic realities of living in a failed system. The human figure is found in a space of limbo; subject to an unstable environment and in varying states of distress or transition. The artist, however, rails against an overt political reading in his work: “I think what I find quite sad is the idea of politics being pushed in as part of the content. I’m not saying politics are not important but are more of an element within everything else. What really shapes the whole narrative in my work is surviving the politics but not talking about the politics.”
Misheck Masamvu (b. 1980, Penhalonga, Zimbabwe) explores and comments on the socio-political setting of post-independence Zimbabwe, and draws attention to the impact of economic policies that sustain political mayhem. Masamvu raises questions and ideas around the state of ‘being’ and the preservation of dignity. His practice encompasses drawing, painting and sculpture.
Masamvu studied at Atelier Delta and Kunste Akademie in Munich, where he initially specialised in the realist style, and later developed a more avant-garde expressionist mode of representation with dramatic and graphic brushstrokes. His work deliberately uses this expressionist depiction, in conjunction with controversial subject matter, to push his audience to levels of visceral discomfort with the purpose of accurately capturing the plight, political turmoil and concerns of his Zimbabwean subjects and their experiences. His works serve as a reminder that the artist is constantly socially-engaged and is tasked with being a voice to give shape and form to a humane sociological topography. In 2020, Masamvu took part in the 22nd Biennale of Sydney.
Masamvu’s work has been well-received and exhibited in numerous shows including Armory Show 2018, Art Basel 2018, Basel Miami Beach 2017, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair New York 2016, São Paulo Biennale 2016, and the Venice Biennale, Zimbabwe Pavillion 2011.Download full CV