Gallery News for Misheck Masamvu
Tracey Rose and Misheck Masamvu at Biennale de Sao Paulo
Large-scale paintings by Misheck Masamu, and sculptures and drawing by Tracey Rose are included in the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo. Titled Incerteza Viva [Live Uncertainty], the 2016 Biennale focuses on notions of uncertainty, reflecting on the current conditions of life and the strategies offered by contemporary art to harbor or inhabit uncertainties. The 32nd Biennale de Sao Paulo runs until 11 December 2016.
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.”
It is in the personal that Masamvu invests his thematic weight, indicated initially in the darkly humorous and reflective titles he gives his works. He speaks of each painting as a proposal for a new reality, an arena for him to work through personal hopes and frustrations but also to offer alternatives, for himself and others, to the constraints and constructs of daily reality. Masamvu states, “My work does not have a specific location, it doesn’t have a specific background.” There is a sense that he is inviting the viewer to attempt to place themselves in that undefined and disorienting space.
Masamvu uses colour atypically to achieve that disorientation. In the catalogue to the group show Working Title, held at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg in 2012, critic Sean O’Toole writes that the painter “purposefully uses colours in ways that destabilize their fixed metonymic qualities… it can even be a way to impede a viewer’s entry into a painting.” Contradiction and contrast operate at every level of Masamvu’s works in Still Still. Line is obfuscated by repetitive mark-making and then clarified in a series of accompanying drawings, figures are deformed then ultimately reconstituted, and overarching all this is a constant pull between representation and abstraction.
Misheck Masamvu was born in Penhalonga, Zimbabwe in 1980 and currently lives and works in Harare where he also facilitates and mentors the work of peers and aspiring artists. He trained at Atelier Delta, Harare and Kunste Akademie in Munich, Germany. He has participated in many major exhibitions and events including the 54th Venice Biennale, where he represented Zimbabwe, as well as the Sao Tome and Dakar Biennales. His work was included on the Cape Town leg of New Revolutions, a group show looking back on 50 years of the Goodman Gallery.
Goodman Gallery Johannesburg
11 – 28 May 2016
Misheck Masamvu’s new body of work for his 2016 exhibition Still at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, allows him to develop and understand his own grammar and the effect his personal circumstances have on the broader position and the formal construction of his paintings. Contradiction and conflict serve as undercurrents in the works; distorted figures transmute out of raging landscapes.
While violent motion is depicted in the brush strokes and paint-work, there is a sense of immovability – as if the figures are trapped within torrents of painted land, caught within their own past and their own circumstance. For Masamvu, taking ownership of the landscape (perhaps, like the political act of taking ownership of the land) is a multidimensional act of personal and group consciousness.
According to the artist, ‘My focus in painting has been to understand my grammar. I believe I have created an alphabet that has helped me paint and speak my truth. I took the initiative to study how the dialogue between my reality and ideas were influencing the painting outcome. I have recollected various motifs from previous work; I have rediscovered the power of non conformity in the approach to what painting ought to be. I am happy to slide into the purity of form, design, and the mystery of black.’
Textually, the exhibition relies on the double meaning of the word ‘Still’, connoting both quietness and repetitiousness. In a poem about the word, Masamvu employs the latter in order to arrive at the former, beginning with the act of weeping and ending with the motionlessness of death.
On the occasion of the group show Working Title at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg in 2012 critic Sean O’Toole wrote of subtextual meanings in Masamvu’s work, that the context is no doubt ‘Zimbabwe’s fraught social and political reality’. But that reality is translated as ‘iconographic and allegorical; it evidences Masamvu’s ongoing interest in the narrative potential of painting, this in spite of his increasingly abstracted painting style.’
About the tussles of form and meaning, Masamvu says, ‘each layer of paint, or brush strokes, on the canvas proposes a search to resolve conflicted experiences or decisions.’
Born in Penhalonga, Zimbabwe in 1980, Masamvu lives and works in Harare. He studied at Atelier Delta, Harare and Kunste Akademie, Munich, Germany. Masamvu has participated in many major exhibitions and events including the 54th Venice biennale, where he represented Zimbabwe, the Sao Tome Biennale and the Dakar Biennale. His work was exhibited on the group exhibition Working Title at Goodman Galley Johannesburg in 2012.
Still crying in the rain
Still hiding pregnancies
Still holding the wound
Still hiding the scar
Still burying evidence
Still running away from the police
Still pointing at failing states
Still in prison
Still filling the potholes
Still standing in the queue
Still border jumping
Still Flipping channels
Still under the knife
Still evading tax
Still loving ‘n hating
Still rockin’ second hand
Still on drugs
Still at mum’s house
Still on the toilet seat
Still hearing voices
Still asking ‘Hanziyi?’
Still in darkness
Still a hypocrite
Still ignoring you
Still back biting
Still seeking asylum
Still digging trenches
Still under the spell
Still in hurting
Still on death bed
Goodman Gallery Cape Town
29 October – 7 December 2016
Kudzanai Chiurai • Nolan Oswald Dennis • Gabrielle Goliath • Haroon Gunn-Salie • Kiluanji Kia Henda • David Koloane • Moshekwa Langa • Gerhard Marx • Tracey Rose • Thabiso Sekgala • Jeremy Wafer
Goodman Gallery Cape Town’s group show Where We Are is a partner exhibition to Africans in America at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg and the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Where We Are offers a counter conversation to Africans in America, which explores the shifts in perspective that are occurring among a new generation of artists from Africa and the Americas as they transverse between the two. The Cape Town exhibition presents work by African artists within Africa – many of whom are still based in their country of origin – as opposed to working in the context of the diaspora.
The artists’ practice has either been rooted in or constantly drawn back to their places of origin – whether circumstantially or deliberately. Place is an inherent locus of the exhibition observable in a multitude of expressions, including map-making, borders, urban landscapes, migration and monuments.
Where We Are is a precursor to a larger exhibition that will take place in New York in 2017. It serves as a series of questions, interrogating history, geography and memory, both personal and collective. The artists examine the systems of place that define the daily lives and recent histories of people across the continent and find them wanting, resulting in many attempts at re-imagining. In the proposal of ideals and alternatives, the status quo is indicted and the past held accountable, as we attempt to understand where we are, how we got here and how to move forward.
Housed in an edifice of large wooden shipping crates, Angolan artist Kiluanji Kia Henda’s video installation Concrete Affection – Zopo Lady references the mass exodus of Luanda’s inhabitants after Angola’s independence from Portugal’s colonial rule in 1975. The cityscape becomes a vivid fabric of motion and colour in an expansive drawing by David Koloane, for whom the city of Johannesburg is a muse.
Gabrielle Goliath’s chilling audio installation, Roulette, points to a defining feature of South Africa – the ever-present threat of violence. A stream of amplified static is punctured by a point-blank recording of a gunshot once every six hours (the damaging effects of which the participant is warned about before listening) – bringing to life femicide statistics showing that every six hours a woman in South Africa is killed by an intimate or ex-intimate partner, one of the highest rates in the world. Rather than confront the violence head-on, two photographs by the late Thabiso Sekgala look beneath the surface at the devastation in the mining towns of Rustenburg and nearby Marikana.
Drenched in red, Haroon Gunn-Salie’s sculptures of dismembered hands cast from public statues of Captain Carl von Brandis, Johannesburg’s first magistrate, and Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias are a powerful indictment of colonialist expansion. Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai engages in a similar re-contextualisation of colonial imagery in his Genesis series, which takes as a departure point stone reliefs commemorating the expeditions of David Livingstone and counters them by imagining an Africa reconnected with its rich traditional past. Tracey Rose also subverts historical assumptions of whiteness by recasting the role of the messiah as a challenge to canonical religious iconography.
The ideas of land and memory are central to Nolan Oswald Dennis’ triptych, which contains extracts from Wikipedia entries for the term “Azania” and points to the limits of and Western bias still so prevalent in human encyclopedic knowledge.
Jeremy Wafer explores the arbitrariness of the physical barriers and boundaries that define country, specifically the demarcation between Mozambique and South Africa. Similarly, Gerhard Marx deconstructs the borders defined in mapping to question notions of territory and the place of the human in the abstracted aerial view.
The abstraction of the landscape is taken to its end point in Moshekwa Langa’s work, an expressive evocation of distance and horizon offering a personal perspective on migration, loss of place and the bittersweet experience of return.
The exhibition includes a video programme hosted in Goodman Gallery Cape Town’s new street-level video room on Sir Lowry Road, echoing the thematic content of Where We Are with a focus on the individual as an anchor to place.
Goodman Gallery Cape Town
2 June – 20 July
In 2016, Goodman Gallery celebrates its 50th anniversary – five decades of forging change through artistic production and dialogue, shaping contemporary art within and beyond the continent. From early June, we will host major exhibitions between our Johannesburg and Cape Town galleries featuring significant work, installations, interventions, performances, a video and talks programmes.
Titled New Revolutions, our programme will include prominent international and African artists – each part of the Goodman Gallery’s history, present and future – engaging with the idea of perpetual change, alternative independent movements and the reinvigorating of ideology based upon mutable historical realities. The project as a whole will consider Goodman Gallery’s history as an inclusive space, as well as its approach to showing contemporary art that shifts perspectives and engenders social transformation.
New Revolutions recalls the fulcrum of activity into which the gallery was borne 50 years ago: revolutionary fervour, the gradual decolonisation of African countries and radical responses to the status quo. Locally, the gallery maintained a responsibility to show work by South African artists as museums served the agenda of the discriminatory government. By transcending its role as a commercial space Goodman Gallery rose to prominence as a progressive institution. And, while South Africa was deep in the throes of a draconian era, figures within the fight for African independence trail-blazed the struggle against apartheid. This exhibition reflects on how the events in Africa then, still play a part in the conceptual thinking of artists now. And, beyond that, how artists have responded to new forms of economic colonisation, migrancy, as well as radicalised reactions to economic inequality and lingering institutional racism.
By considering how the roles of artists cross into the realm of activism and socially transformative endeavours, New Revolutions explores historical and contemporary tensions and movements that are unfolding in Africa and around the world, through the panorama of contemporary art.
The 2016 anniversary programme highlights Goodman Gallery’s ongoing affiliation with artists who explore the power of dissent and the importance of alternative factions and cross-disciplinary collaborations in order to engender change and encourage dialogue. A non-chronological, intergenerational but conceptually linked collection of artworks from the 1960s to the present will focus on the spirit of protest, resistance, and revolution, and the way in which South Africa, and Goodman Gallery in particular, has offered an important platform from which to explore such approaches.
On the occasion of its 50th anniversary Goodman Gallery takes pleasure in announcing new partnerships with some of the world’s most significant artists – Sonia Gomes (Brazil), Kiluanji Kia Henda (Angola), Shirin Neshat (Iran) – revealing new directions in the gallery’s programme. Locally, we announce the representation by Goodman Gallery of Tabita Rezaire and The Brother Moves On. In addition, the exhibition will include work by international artists Kapwani Kiwanga (US) and Jacolby Satterwhite (US).
New Revolutions will provide an opportunity to exhibit those who have worked with the gallery for decades including William Kentridge, David Koloane, Sam Nhlengethwa, David Goldblatt and Tracey Rose, and some of the most influential younger voices in contemporary art including Kudzanai Chiurai, Hasan and Husain Essop, Mikhael Subotzky, Gerald Machona and Haroon Gunn-Salie. The show will also include artists who have been integral in the gallery’s transformation over the past decade, including Ghada Amer, Candice Breitz, Alfredo Jaar, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, and Hank Willis Thomas. Performances will be presented by local innovators, Nelisiwe Xaba and The Brother Moves On.
Beyond this, the iconic significance of the gallery, and the historical moment necessitates that certain artists whose ideas and actions impacted on society, and on the course of art history, be included. Artists like Walter Wahl Battis, Cecil Skotnes, Ezrom Legae, Leonard Matsotso and Sydney Khumalo are exhibited as part of our endeavour to show how the regeneration of ideas – and the gallery as a repository of change – is not confined to epochs.
With New Revolutions we invite you to celebrate with Goodman Gallery as we pay homage to artists who have shaped the landscape of contemporary art in Southern Africa. These include artists based on the continent, those of the Diaspora, our northern counterparts who have been distanced from sub-Saharan Africa and those from outside of Africa whose work explores territory such as unequal power structures and socio-political constructs.
New Revolutions is curated by Liza Essers and will take place throughout the month of June at our Johannesburg and Cape Town galleries, and with a special selection of works for Art Basel from 16 June to 19 June.
Vusi Beauchamp / Jaco Bouwer / Tegan Bristow / The Brother Moves On / Cuss Group / The Frown & Vintage Cru / Haroon Gunn-Salie in collaboration with Dereleen James / Murray Kruger / Gerald Machona / Misheck Masamvu / Tiffany Mentoor / Thenjiwe Nkosi / Johan Thom / MJ Turpin / Jessica Webster / Nelisiwe Xaba & Mocke van Veuren
In July this year Goodman Gallery Johannesburg will present the group exhibition [Working Title] 2013. This is the second installment of the annual group exhibition of the same name, the first of which premiered at Goodman Gallery Cape Town in 2012 and was curated by Federico Freschi. The [Working Title] exhibitions are part of a new initiative by the Goodman Gallery aimed at supporting young artists, curators, independent projects and major installations and performances.
In the past Goodman Gallery has collaborated with independent curators such as Simon Njami and Bettina Malcomess, who curated the US exhibition, part of which was shown at Goodman Gallery Projects at Arts on Main in 2009. In 2010 independent curator and academic Nontobeko Ntombela curated the exhibition Layers at Goodman Gallery Projects as part of her ongoing research into the creative strategies of women artists, in particular those that aim to contextualise socio-political issues. In 2011 Goodman Gallery curators Tony East and Claire van Blerck produced The Night Show, a 3-part exhibition staged at Goodman Gallery Cape Town, which sought to destabilise the notion of the white cube and to engage with contemporary art practice on its own terms, courting the spontaneous and embracing the ephemeral.
Previous projects also include the site specific street performance Cut / Cute by Joel Andrianomearisoa, which premiered in Johannesburg as part of SA Fashion Week, and Nelisiwe Xaba and Mocke van Veuren’s performance Uncles and Angels, which was presented at Goodman Gallery Projects as part of the Dance Umbrella.
Goodman Gallery continues to collaborate with academics and theorists, and has hosted lectures by Jane Taylor, Federico Freschi and Alfredo Jaar – whose lecture coincided with his 2012 exhibition at the Goodman Gallery Gold in the Morning – and panel discussions with David Goldblatt, Ivan Vladislavic and Marlene van Niekerk.
While Goodman Gallery Projects closed at Arts on Main in 2012, the [Working Title] exhibition series exists as a resolution to the Goodman Gallery’s continued interest in independent and collaborative projects and allows for the continuation of previous projects and relationships, as well as the introduction of new artists, theorists and creatives into the Goodman Gallery. Each year the [Working Title] exhibition will have a new curator, either from the Goodman Gallery or through collaboration with an invited external curator.
This year’s [Working Title] is curated by Emma Laurence and includes artists who are pushing the limits of the contemporary South African art scene and who have produced work that is at the cutting edge of current art production. The exhibition is concerned with works that are born out of dynamic and independent practice. Included in the exhibition are artists who work across disciplines and who bring into the perceived elite gallery space sub-cultural aesthetics and standpoints.
The show incorporates artists working in various and perhaps unconventional media such as 3-D cinema, interactive gaming, short stories and punk inspired performance, as well as artists who begin to interrogate modes of representation and viewing in painting and photography. During the run of the show, a series of scheduled events will take place as part of [Working Title] and will include an off-site project by Cuss Group called Video Party, a performance after the opening by The Frown and The Brother Moves On and an opening address and lecture by distinguished theorist Achille Mbembe, who will speak on “The Postcolony Revisited”. Professor Mbembe’s lecture is co-sponsored by WISER (Wits Institute for Economic Research).
1989 Born in Penhalonga, Zimbabwe. Misheck Masamvu lives and works in Harare. He studied at Atelier Delta, Harare and Kunste Akademie, Munich, Germany. His practice encompasses painting, drawing and sculpture. Masamvu has participated in many exhibitions including the 54th Venice biennale, where he represented Zimbabwe, the Sao Tome Biennale and the Dakar Biennale.
2016 Misheck Masamvu/ Still/ 2016, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2015 Misheck Masamvu, Institut Franchaise, Paris, France
2014 Life Sentence, blank projects, Cape Town, South Africa
2012 Epitaph, blank projects, Cape Town, South Africa
2009 Shame, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe
2009 Disputed Seats, Influx Contemporary Art, Lisbon, Portugal
2006 Relay, Munich, Germany
2006 Colour of Sweat, Bonn, Germany
2003 A Naked Mind II, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe
2002 A Naked Mind I, National Gallery, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
2016 New Revolutions: Goodman Gallery at 50 , Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
2015 Triangle, with Tayseer Barakat and Ismail Al Rifai, curated by Mohamed Abou Elnaga, The Mojo Gallery, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
2014 next thing you know, blank projects, Cape Town, South Africa
2013 Afropolicity, Njelele Art Station, Harare, Zimbabwe
2013 blank projects in Johannesburg, Ithuba Arts Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2013 Working Title, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2013 Leatherette, Gallery 23, Amsterdam, Netherlands
2012 Dekonstruiert und Geflickt, Gallerie Francoise Heitsch, Munich, Germany
2011 54th Venice Biennale, Zimbabwe Pavillion, Venice, Italy
2011 São Tomé Biennale, São Tomé and Principe
2010 Africa 2.0 > is there a Contemporary African art? – Influx Contemporary Art, Lisbon, Portugal
2008 Art, Migration and Identity, Africa Museum, CBK, Arnhem, Netherlands
2008 Hidden Stories, Grote Kerk, Haarlem, Netherlands
2008 Many Rivers to Cross, Cafe Gallery, London, UK
2008 696, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
2015 Artist in Residence, Institut Francais, Paris
2005 – 2007 Kunste Akademie, Munich
1999 Atelier Delta
Press for Misheck Masamvu
Misheck Masamvu / Between 10 and 5 / October 2016Painting pictures of catharsis, by Layla Leiman (3.5 MB)
Misheck Masamvu / Weekend Argus / September 2016Nothing stills his fierce talent by Michael Morris (371.9 KB)