blank projects presents Life Sentence, an exhibition of new paintings by Misheck Masamvu. Following Epitaph, his first exhibition at the gallery in 2012, Life Sentence continues to reflect on the fraught political and social situation of the artist’s home country, Zimbabwe.
Produced in oils with vigorous brush strokes and intense colors, the paintings depict figures and chimeras, often disfigured and degraded, which seem at times to be trapped in bold colour fields resembling abstracted landscapes or mobs of imagined spectators. In other paintings the background comes to the fore and individual figures subtly shift into focus, playing out ironically absurd scenarios that reflect on the psychosocial and political realities of present day Zimbabwe.
According to the artist:
“The works attempt to reconcile the notion of freedom in relation to applied statutes. However, the quest to resolve the injustice presiding over the constituency that shapes Life Sentence selectively reveals the theatre in question. It is staged, performed by an audience hypnotized, dressed in lab rat costumes. I have witnessed our struggle in preparing to play host to new ideas, culpable or inflicted. Once those in power regard our existence as raw material, our lives become relevant as servitude to their tenure. The same speech will be repeated until the walls of resistance are broken down, and their words become fact: the adoration of needles and haystacks where presidents are hand-picked. Why are we celebrating freedom? Whose freedom are we commemorating when we are decorating our chests with the ghost-teeth of fallen heroes?”
Misheck Masamvu [b.1980] lives and works in Harare, Zimbabwe. He studied at the Atelier Delta in Harare, Zimbabwe and the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany. He has participated in numerous exhibitions, including the Dak’art Biennale and the 54th Venice Biennale where he represented Zimbabwe.