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Sunjung Kim’s Real DMZ Project Interrogates the North and South Korea Divide Ocula Conversation Sunjung Kim’s Real DMZ Project Interrogates the North and South Korea Divide

Ongoing since 2012, the Real DMZ Project interrogates the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea through annual, research-based exhibitions that bring together the works of Korean and international artists. Sunjung Kim, the independent curator behind the project, conceived the idea of exploring the DMZ while curating Japanese artist...

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Frieze Week Lowdown: London Shows to See Ocula Report Frieze Week Lowdown: London Shows to See 20 Sep 2019 : Tessa Moldan for Ocula

London's galleries and museums are gearing up for a lively October, with Frieze London and Frieze Masters running between 3 and 6 October 2019 at Regent's Park, along with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, taking place across the same dates at Somerset House; and the tenth anniversary of the Sunday Art Fair, showcasing new and emerging artists...

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Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum Ocula Insight | Video Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum 16 August 2019

Mark Bradford walks through Mark Bradford: Los Angeles Mark Bradford: Los Angeles at the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai (27 July–13 October 2019) is the artist's largest solo exhibition to date in China. In this video for Ocula, Bradford and Diana Nawi, curator of the show, walk through selected works that convey the artist's concerns with...

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Misheck Masamvu

b. 1980, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean artist Misheck Masamvu creates paintings, sculptures, and drawings that flow between an individual and communal voice to tell stories deeply rooted in the context of contemporary Zimbabwe. In a political practice characterised by bold, loose brushstrokes and vivid colours, the artist leans into discomfort as a tool with which to provoke the viewer.

Originally a realist painter, Masamvu slowly gravitated towards an approach to figuration more reminiscent of Abstract Expressionism. In one interview, he describes oil painting as 'playing in the mud mixed with tears and your sweat.' This emotive, energetic approach to painting is palpable in his vibrant canvases and yet simultaneously belies a sense of conflict and ambivalence. In layer upon layer of paint, the artist uses the confident gestural strokes of Abstract Expressionism alongside figurative elements to create a nuanced portrait of contemporary Zimbabwean life; a portrait that is both a critical analysis of the nation's flaws and a passionate love letter to his home and community.

Masamvu's practice is preoccupied with the socio-political environment of post-independence Zimbabwe. Zombie President (2017)— one of a series of president-themed paintings— satirically portrays the eroding effects of greed and despotism. Using art as a form of activism, the artist looks to comment on the current political landscape, and in doing so, empower his fellow Zimbabweans towards a better future.

To best reflect this uncomfortable political climate, Masamvu's paintings invite the viewer into feelings of discomfort. In one interview, the artist compares a painting to a sunset, remarking that a sunset is more beautiful with clouds. In Thigh Lock (2013), the possibility of sex and violence merge to create a layered narrative in which it is not known if the outcome is pleasure or pain. In Gift from John the Baptist (2017), the famous image of John the Baptist's head on a platter is complicated by a body still attached underneath the platter. In Knuckle Bones (2018), the artist uses colours in a range of pastel shades to evoke the youthful atmosphere of the childhood game, and yet there is also a sense that something sinister lurks beneath. By creating an unstable narrative that often verges on the grotesque, the artist captures the viewer's attention with a more sustained gaze.

Though best known for his paintings, the distinctive tone of Masamvu's sculptures adds another layer of complexity to his practice. While his canvases are dynamic worlds of colour, the sculptures are more subdued and minimalist. The stained wood carving Misheck we miss you love from dead mother and twin sister (2017) is shaped like a flat, elongated 'H', and is painted black except for three white cuffs. When installed it leans against the wall, standing around human height. Though the piece itself does not reveal as much as some of the artist's paintings, the title hints at a much deeper story, lending the sculpture a similar narrative energy to the paintings.

Masamvu studied at Atelier Delta and Munich's Kunstakademie. He represented Zimbabwe in the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, and has participated in a range of other prestigious exhibitions and events both locally and internationally.

Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2019
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Featured Artworks

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Correct Mistake by Misheck Masamvu contemporary artwork
Misheck MasamvuCorrect Mistake, 2017 Wood, canvas and oil paint
65.7 x 21.3 x 0.8 inches
Goodman Gallery
Misheck we miss you love from dead mother and twin sister by Misheck Masamvu contemporary artwork
Misheck MasamvuMisheck we miss you love from dead mother and twin sister, 2017 Stained wood carving
73.6 x 19.7 x 0.8 inches
Goodman Gallery
Trophies and Sycophants by Misheck Masamvu contemporary artwork
Misheck MasamvuTrophies and Sycophants, 2019 Oil on canvas
110.2 x 80.7 inches
Goodman Gallery
Pinky Scratch by Misheck Masamvu contemporary artwork
Misheck MasamvuPinky Scratch, 2018 Oil on canvas
75.6 x 66.5 inches
Goodman Gallery
Therapy Lounge by Misheck Masamvu contemporary artwork
Misheck MasamvuTherapy Lounge, 2019 Oil on canvas
400 x 180 cm
Goodman Gallery
Counting Coins by Misheck Masamvu contemporary artwork
Misheck MasamvuCounting Coins, 2019 Oil on canvas
261 x 208 cm
Goodman Gallery
Cat's Cradle by Misheck Masamvu contemporary artwork
Misheck MasamvuCat's Cradle, 2019 Oil on canvas
209 x 175 cm
Goodman Gallery
Benediction by Misheck Masamvu contemporary artwork
Misheck MasamvuBenediction, 2019 Oil on canvas
260 x 205 cm
Goodman Gallery

Current & Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, I’ve grown roses in this garden of mine at Goodman Gallery, London
Upcoming
3 October–2 November 2019 Group Exhibition I’ve grown roses in this garden of mine Goodman Gallery, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Misheck Masamvu, Hata at Goodman Gallery, Cape Town
Closed
20 July–31 August 2019 Misheck Masamvu Hata Goodman Gallery, Cape Town

Represented By

In Related Press

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‘STILL STILL:’ In Conversation with Misheck Masamvu Related Press ‘STILL STILL:’ In Conversation with Misheck Masamvu 23 July 2019

ART AFRICA: So let's start from the beginning. Please tell us a bit about your childhood? Were you an only child?Misheck Masamvu: No, I was born in a family of what was meant to be six siblings, six children, but then my twin died. So there were five that survived. I'm the only boy. I grew up in a family with girls. It wasn't easy, as I was quite...

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Carnivorous Politics, Defiant Bodies: Harare Painting in Turbulent Times Related Press Carnivorous Politics, Defiant Bodies: Harare Painting in Turbulent Times Frieze : 26 May 2018

Over the past two decades, Zimbabwe, a largely agrarian southern African country of 17 million inhabitants, has been buffeted by seemingly endless troubles. The carnivorous politics at the centre of these problems are hard to overlook – particularly in appraisals of art from this landlocked country – but are also easily overstated. Despite the...

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South African art shines at the Armory Show Related Press South African art shines at the Armory Show The Art Newspaper : 9 March 2018

Two years after the Armory Show's Focus section offered a cross section of African galleries (the geographic frame was abandoned thereafter), dealers and young artists from South Africa, already in the spotlight with the opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, have made a particularly strong showing at this year's fair (8-11 March),...

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South Africa’s hottest artists at 1:54 New York this week Related Press South Africa’s hottest artists at 1:54 New York this week The South African : 5 May 2016

Aida Muluneh: A critically acclaimed photographer, Aida Muluneh's work is firmly embedded in the essences of identity, memory, relationships and emotion. Having lived in Ethiopia, Yemen, England and Cyprus as a child, Muluneh temporarily settled in Canada in 1985, before taking up study at Howard University in Washington, the US in 2000, where she...

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4 new artworks by Misheck Masamvu have recently been added to Ocula. Sign up to be among the first to know when new works become available.

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