Goodman Gallery East Hampton is pleased to present Carnivorous Words, an exhibition of colour-rich paintings by pioneering Zimbabwean artist Misheck Masamvu.
Carnivorous Bodies marks Masamvu's ﬁrst solo exhibition in the United States, and follows his participation in Witness: Afro Perspectives from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection, a group exhibition at El Espacio 23, and Allied with Power at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami.
Masamvu uses painting and drawing as a way in which to investigate human existence and our relationship to the natural world. Central to his practice is abstraction, which the artist employs to explore 'the language and politics of space'. While abstraction forms an integral part of Masamvu's practice he does not let go of figuration completely. Rather, his figures appear within the abstracted space he creates, attesting to his continued belief in the narrative potential of painting. For the artist, his paintings are understood as marks of existence, pointing not only to the realities of his lived experience but also to mental and psychological space, where each layer of paint, or brushstroke on the canvas proposes a search to resolve conflicted experiences or decisions.
'I use both figuration and abstraction in my work because I am looking for a new 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', says Masamvu.
With a technique that is immediate and direct, Masamvu's works consist of layered painted surfaces, abstracted forms and brushstrokes which are almost visceral and exist as remnants of the physical action of painting. In establishing a distinct abstract visual language, one gets the sense that multiple temporalities have been included in one picture plane and that beneath the surface of one painted image, an infinity of others exist. The outcome of which is a porous pictorial space, one that moves between representational clarity and rich, abstract abundance.
Frieze critic Mimi Chu, reviewing Masamvu's 2021 solo exhibition, Don't talk to me while I'm eating, at Goodman Gallery London, writes: 'Misheck Masamvu works his oil paints into the canvas gradually, layering brushstrokes to reveal scenes of figures rendered in dynamic motion. Tones and textures diffuse in a strange osmosis, conjuring bodies in environments like memories of a hot day revisited in sleep'.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Working predominantly as a painter and sculptor, Misheck Masamvu describes his works as 'mutants' which oscillate between abstraction and figuration. Masamvu's practice is a battle against the forced ideology of government and the breakdown of the pursuit of humanity. His works are understood as marks of existence, pointing not only to the realities of his lived experience but also to mental and psychological space, where each layer of paint, or brushstroke on the canvas proposes a search to resolve conflicted experiences or decisions.
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. 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 Witness: Afro Perspectives from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection, a group exhibition at El Espacio 23, and Allied with Power at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, as well as Five Bobh: Painting at the End of an Era (2017) at Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, South 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.
The artist's work can be found in prominent international collections, which include: A4 Arts Foundation (Cape Town, South Africa), Braunsfelder Family Collection (Cologne, Germany), Fundacion Yannick y Ben Jakober (Mallorca, Spain), Pérez Art Museum (Miami, United States), Sovereign Art Foundation (Jakarta, Indonesia), the United States National Embassies Permanent Collection (Washington DC, United States), X Museum (Beijing, China) and Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Cape Town, South Africa).
Press release courtesy Goodman Gallery.