Misheck Masamvu - Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon Charity Auction London Wednesday, March 16, 2022 | Phillips
  • Misheck 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”. 

    Born in Penhalonga, in 1980, during the early years of Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain, Masamvu explores systems of power and control through his layered work. The works are understood by the artist as marks of existence, pointing not only to the realities of his lived experienced but also to mental and psychological space, where “each layer of paint, or brush stroke on the canvas proposes a search to resolve conflicted experiences or decisions.”


    Oscillating between abstraction and figuration, Masamvu’s works allow him to address the past while searching for a way of being in the world. His layered painted surfaces and brushstrokes, which are almost visceral, exist as remnants of the physical act of painting and give the sense that multiple temporalities have been included in one picture plane. 

    '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.'
    —Misheck Masamvu

    In this extraordinary work Twitching Bulb, a central figure emerges from the expressionist abstraction; figure and background are intertwined, merging into one another. Beneath the surface of a painted image, an infinity of others seem to exist. Painted with immediacy, the many layers, surface, abstracted forms and brushstrokes are visceral reminders of the physical act of painting. Stylistically, the work evokes the turmoil of the German Expressionists, as well as the gesture of painters such as Willem de Kooning. 


    Misheck Masamvu represented Zimbabwe at the 54th Venice Biennale, the São Tomé Biennale and most recently the São Paulo Biennale 2016. Most recently, his work was included in the 2020 Sydney Biennial, where he was shortlisted for the Henrike Grohs Art Award. He will be included in the 2022 5th Aichi Triennale, Aichi, Japan.  Masamvu has had solo exhibitions at Goodman Gallery (2020, 2019, 2016); Epitaph at blank projects, Cape Town (2012); and A Naked Mind I at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo (2002). Significant group exhibitions include Allied with Power: African and African Diaspora Art from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection, Pérez Art Museum, Miami, USA (2020); Witness: Afro Perspectives, El Espacio 23, Miami, USA (2020); Alles Notwendige (Everthing Necessary), Braunsfelder Family Collection, Cologne, Germany (2020) and Five Bhobh Painting at the End of an Era, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa (2018). His work is included in prominent public collections including Zeitz Museum, Cape Town; X Museum, Beijing; National Gallery, Zimbabwe; Perez Art Museum, Miami; US Embassies Permanent Collection, Washington DC.     

    • Description

      Image: Anthea Pokroy

      Condition reports, Lot descriptions and information in respect of Lots included in this Online-Only Auction have been prepared exclusively by Whitechapel Gallery following Whitechapel Gallery’s assessment of the Lots. Phillips and its staff are not responsible in any way for such statements, representations or opinions or for any other information provided in respect of the Lots, whether by Whitechapel Gallery, on Phillips website or in any other form.

    • Provenance

      Donated by the artist and Goodman Gallery, Cape Town | Johannesburg | London


Twitching Bulb

oil on canvas, in artist's frame
104 x 93.5 cm (40 7/8 x 36 3/4 in.)
Painted in 2022.

Full Cataloguing

£12,000 - 18,000 


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