Misheck Masamvu / Still Still / 2016

About

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.

  • Lost Angels

    Misheck Masamvu

    Lost Angels, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    230 x 160 cm

  • Heavy Weight Champion

    Misheck Masamvu

    Heavy Weight Champion, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    260x 170 cm

  • Ranked Heads

    Misheck Masamvu

    Ranked Heads, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    245 x 175 cm

  • Jump spread your legs

    Misheck Masamvu

    Jump spread your legs, 2013

    Oil on canvas

    210 x 370cm

  • Pinky

    Misheck Masamvu

    Pinky, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    72 x 71 cm

  • First Lady

    Misheck Masamvu

    First Lady, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    80 x 72 cm

  • Allergies

    Misheck Masamvu

    Allergies, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    184 x 136 cm

  • Dozen Pizza Slices

    Misheck Masamvu

    Dozen Pizza Slices, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    163 x 170 cm

  • Gatekeepers

    Misheck Masamvu

    Gatekeepers, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    175 x 453 cm

  • Lady parts on the Coat of Arms

    Misheck Masamvu

    Lady parts on the Coat of Arms, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    176 x 173 cm

  • Saint Ant

    Misheck Masamvu

    Saint Ant, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    130 x 150 cm

  • Amen! Amen! Amen!

    Misheck Masamvu

    Amen! Amen! Amen!, 2012

    Oil on canvas

    127 x 113 cm

  • Hood Poison

    Misheck Masamvu

    Hood Poison, 2015

    Oil on canvas

    140 x 255 cm

  • Monkey Rains

    Misheck Masamvu

    Monkey Rains, 2016

    Oil on Canvas

    156 x 130 cm

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