The Mozambican artist Gemuce addresses the problem of negotiation and communication, whether between individuals or between two worlds confronting each other. To depict their encounters, he uses the wall as the central motif of his 15-part series of oil paintings, Alignment of Values. As a universal metaphor, it symbolizes not only the separation of these worlds, but also a general distance between people that makes it harder to understand each other.

The wall always shows the viewer only one of its sides; the other remains concealed. And so the wall appears as a projection screen for all the things that lie beyond one’s own boundaries, but at the same time as a symbol of the challenge of negotiating with an unknown counterpart. The opposition, but also the universality of individual boundedness, is also shown in the choice of motifs. The depicted persons vary in sex, cultural background, and social class. A person leaps up onto a wall with zest, attempting to overcome it or at least catch a fleeting glimpse beyond it. Another person has grown tired and dreams of the other side, for understanding someone can be frustrating and exhausting. One last painting shows a man in an “international-style” suit, pushing a wall. This image can be read as a political metaphor of paternalism or exclusion.

Gemuce finally brings this negotiation between two sides into the form of a performance in the exhibition space. While involving the audience, he completes selected paintings and disrupts a possible meta-narration and thereby their respective interpretation by repeatedly renegotiating with the visitors how they are to be hung.
Gemuce "Alignment of Values" Slideshow Performance (c) Gemuce
This work has developed in a collaboration with Vanessa Díaz Rivas, researcher at the Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. She is currently working on her dissertation project on contemporary art in Maputo, Mozambique.
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Alignment of Values, 13 paintings Oil on canvas, 100 cm x 130 cm, 2013, Installationview Photo by (c) Mike Terry


Gemuce (Pompilio Hilario), born in 1963, is a Maputo based visual artist. From 1983-85, he studied ceramics at the School of Visual arts and graduated in Fine Arts at the Kiev Institute of Fine Art in 1992. In 1993, he completed a Masters’ degree in Mural paintings at the Ukrainian Academy of Arts. Back in Maputo, he started a gallery with a friend to show their and other artists’ work. In 2001, he graduated with a Master's degree in Cultural Management at the Sorbonne University, France. Since 1994, Gemuce is teaching visual arts at the Escola Nacional de Artes Visuais (ENAV) in Maputo and since 2009, he is teaching at the Instituto Superior de Arte e Cultura (ISARC), also in Maputo. He is co-founder, member and coordinator of Muvart (movimento de arte contemporaneia) that promotes contemporary art in Mozambique. Gemuce has held more than ten solo exhibitions and showed his work in Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Germany, Finland, Portugal, Russia, Brazil, UK, Norway, Senegal, Scotland, and the Ukraine.