Talk to me while I'm eating
January to February 2021
Goodman Gallery London
TALK TO ME WHILE I’M EATING
by Misheck Masamvu
This delayed reality
It is both a space of consternation and resolve
Neither discourse nor tone may set an intent
To reach an agreeable position
That can arguably be used to erase the deed
This deed, my position
Where I have stepped on the boundaries of what is perceived as an omission
Or a taken on or considered others
Or the otherness of what may be termed as invariable/inexcusable reality.
I need to unearth the presumption from the assertions being made
Or being read
To define the current trajectory
I chose what at that time seemed likely to be the best decision
But now hope not to be held hostage
Derived from those radicalized or alienated
Or tethered in proximity
Within the remnants of old behavior
To witness the consequence therein.
Here it is again
The need to recognize and reconcile elements that bind two people in a set
To assert what ingredients draw them together.
Identity is derived from a trajectory of quasi traditional mannerisms
Permeating within the pseudo self-conscious environment.
The question is
How much appetite do I still have?
To draw inspiration from the past
Or do I still feel empowered by ticking the checklist?
Without paying heed to the consequences that may fall?
This attempt to trip on history
Whilst stripping the decadent practices necessitated
As an improvisation to survive my own trajectories
From seeking favour from the host
And losing my sense of bearing and,
Who I ought to be, in minutes of recognition and mischief.
I am zipped in my mind space
Still participating in spaces of interaction to interrogate my capacity to deal with others.
To locate and focus on the source power at the table
The spilled/ spoiled/ broken table at the last supper
Masamvu’s multidisciplinary practice explores the socio-political setting of post-independence Zimbabwe. His work draws attention to the impact of economic policies that sustain political turmoil and raises questions around what it means to preserve a state of being with dignity. Central to his painting practice is a strategic approach to combining abstraction and figuration through which the artist considers a possible language for redemptive space:
“I use figuration and abstraction in my work because I am looking for an alternative space – one that is against the forced ideology of government and the breakdown of the pursuit of humanity. For this, the symbolism of the landscape and the figure in constant states of entangled metamorphosis are important. I am aware of the communion of the body, the soil and spirit and am interested in how transfiguration and memoirs of body and soul can evoke a real sense of vulnerability” - Masamvu.
Excerpt from exhibition press release
For someone who is still adamant that his painting is not political, he does not shy away from intimate and revealing themes or subject matter. Again, I return to my initial question of the entangled interplay between human experience and art and I cannot help but think back to the months leading up to the exhibition. Our relationship with each other was tested; something that Masamvu calls a 10-year relapse. There are skeletons in our cupboards and this time they came to feed in gulps and large chunks. Masamvu asked for time, repeatedly – time to die and a time to transform. As a result, this body of work is poignant – each painting embodying a sense of liberation, a dream and illusion and subjecting you to your own intellectual consideration. But the works remind us that they are still parables and passages, repeatedly. It was a war space and not once did he back down.
Excerpt from A NEGLECTED GENERATION AT THE MERCY OF THE HOST
an essay by Gina Maxim
Misheck Masamvu (b. 1980, Penhalonga, Zimbabwe) was born in the year that Zimbabwe gained independence from the United Kingdom.
Masamvu began his art education in the late 1990s at Atilier Delta, an important venue in Harare, where he participated in a workshop led by Helen Lieors, which proved to be formative. In the mid 2000s, he gained a scholarship to study under Prof. Jerry Zeniuk at The Kunst Akademie in Munich.
Having co-founded the Harare-based project space and residency programme Village Unhu alongside fellow artists Georgina Maxim and Gareth Nyandoro in 2011, Masamvu continues to play an important role in mentoring the next generation of artists in his home country.
Masamvu’s work has been exhibited around the world. In 2020 his large-scale paintings were included in the 22nd Sydney Biennale, titled NIRIN, as a solo presentation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, curated by Brook Andrew. For this body of work, the artist suggests the need to unearth the violent and traumatic history of land ownership, particularly in postcolonial contexts. In 2016, Masamvu’s work was included on the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo and, in 2011, he made his international debut by representing his country at Zimbabwe’s inaugural Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale.
Major group exhibitions include Five Bobh: Painting at the End of an Era (2017) at Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, Africa 2.0 > is there a Contemporary African art? (2010) at Influx Contemporary Art in Lisbon, Art, Migration and Identity (2008) at Africa Museum, CBK in Arnhem (Netherlands) and 696 (2008) at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare.
Masamvu’s work can be found in international collections, including: A4 Arts Foundation (Cape Town), Braunsfelder Family Collection (Cologne), Perez Art Museum (Miami), Pigozzi Collection (Geneva), Sina Jina Collection (London) and Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, (Cape Town).
in 2017 Maxim co-founded the project space and residency programme Village Unhu in Harare alongside Masamvu and fellow artist Gareth Nyandoro.