Misheck Masamvu / Still / 2016

About

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 waiting
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 unpaid
Still still
Still masturbating
Still evading tax
Still oppressed
Still hungry
Still loving ‘n hating
Still rockin’ second hand
Still stuck
Still unemployed
Still vending
Still resentful
Still on drugs
Still at mum’s house
Still on the toilet seat
Still hearing voices
Still asking ‘Hanziyi?’
Still revolting
Still in darkness
Still a hypocrite
Still hammered
Still losing
Still ignoring you
Still back biting
Still seeking asylum
Still digging trenches
Still under the spell
Still in hurting
Still bitching
Still on death bed

  • Wing

    Misheck Masamvu

    Wing, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    75 x 75 cm

  • Ranked Heads

    Misheck Masamvu

    Ranked Heads, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    245 x 175 cm

  • Presidential Visit

    Misheck Masamvu

    Presidential Visit, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    158 x 137 cm

  • Monkey Rains

    Misheck Masamvu

    Monkey Rains, 2016

    Oil on Canvas

    156 x 130 cm

  • Heavy Weight Champion

    Misheck Masamvu

    Heavy Weight Champion, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    260x 170 cm

  • Corked

    Misheck Masamvu

    Corked, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    220 x 160 cm

  • Crosses

    Misheck Masamvu

    Crosses, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    86.5 x 83 cm

  • Maybe

    Misheck Masamvu

    Maybe, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    100 x 100 cm

  • Life of a cock

    Misheck Masamvu

    Life of a cock, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    136 x 159 cm

  • Death Trip

    Misheck Masamvu

    Death Trip, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    168 x 136 cm

  • Lion Heart

    Misheck Masamvu

    Lion Heart, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    83 x 86cm

  • Lost Angels

    Misheck Masamvu

    Lost Angels, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    230 x 160 cm

  • Installation picture [Misheck Masamvu / Still / 2016]
  • Installation picture [Misheck Masamvu / Still / 2016]
  • Installation picture [Misheck Masamvu / Still / 2016]
  • Installation picture [Misheck Masamvu / Still / 2016]
  • Installation picture [Misheck Masamvu / Still / 2016]
  • Installation picture [Misheck Masamvu / Still / 2016]