MISHECK MASAMVU

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

Posthumously.

 

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

 

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Dopamine, 2020

Oil on canvas
171 x 198 cm (67.3 x 78 in)

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Lips in a Box, 2020
Oil on canvas

160 x 136 cm (63 x 53.5 in)

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Head full of Hair, 2020
Oil on canvas

197 x 172 cm (77.6 x 67.7 in)

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Hot Buns, 2020
Oil on canvas

105 x 90 cm (41.3 x 35.4 in)

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Semi-Detached, 2020
Oil on canvas

250 x 299 cm (98.4 x 117.7 in)

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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

Ephemeral Space, 2020
Oil on canvas

250 x 300 cm (98.4 x 118.1 in)

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Thoughts before the Rain, 2020
Oil on canvas

174 x 235 cm (68.5 x 92.5 in)

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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

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Whispers in the Mist, 2020
Oil on canvas

200 x 174 cm (78.7 x 68.5 in)

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Gift of life, 2020
Ink on paper

41.9 x 29.6 cm (16.5 x 11.7 in)

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Perking, 2020
Ink on paper

41.9 x 29.6 cm (16.5 x 11.7 in)

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Inglorious chambers 2020
Ink on paper

41.9 x 29.6 cm (16.5 x 11.7 in)

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 Biography

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.