Talk to me while I'm eating
January to February 2021
Goodman Gallery London
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.