Jump Spread Your Legs, 2013

Misheck Masamvu
1980, Mutare, Zimbabwe. Lives in Harare, Zimbabwe

Misheck Masamvu is known for his provocative paintings which are undertaken to reflect and comment on the post-independence socio-political landscape of Zimbabwe and the nation’s place in the imagination of the political world. Born during the infancy of Zimbabwe’s independence from the British Empire, Masamvu’s scenes visualize a chaotic world similar to the one portrayed in "The House of Hunger" (1978) by the late Zimbabwean writer Dambudzo Marachera – the artist described his writing as a form of ‘literary shock treatment.’ The same can be ascribed to Masamvu’s paintings; they are a declaration of a stagnant and fractured political state. Though seductive in their rendition of color and form, the paintings can be read as a form of combat. The war here is both political and spiritual, it is waged to redeem humanity’s apathy towards suffering and pain, conditions which lead to spiritual exhaustion. Commissioned by the 32nd Bienal, Midnight (2016) and Spiritual Host (2016) are created amidst Zimbabwe’s changing political backdrop, where recent anti-government protests bear witness to the people’s demand for a new reality.