Misheck Masamvu / Still / 2016

Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
11 May 2016 - 28 May 2016

Misheck Masamvu / Still / 2016

Misheck Masamvu , Heavy Weight Champion, 2016 Oil on canvas 260x 170 cm

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.

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




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