Growing up in Brazzaville, Gastineau Massamba was entrenched within the civil conflict that tore apart his country. Deeply affected by his experiences, he approaches his practice as a conduit for dealing with the violence, chaos, and pain he and his country suffered, of which vestiges from this tumultuous period still exist today. Massamba bears a violence within his methods: burns, cuts, and embroidered often appear with powerful effect. Laborious, yet refraining from ornamentation, his stark vignettes of human suffering are often attended by motifs of faceless armed soldiers and skeletal remains. The recurring motif of the skull suggests a will to tame the forces of evil, while gesturing toward traditional forms of Vodou, practiced in his home country. While seemingly macabre in tone, respite from violence is offered by way of transcendence, glimpsed in emblems such as organic plantation – as discernible symbols of growth and survival.
Massamba’s work has been widely exhibited in Republic of Congo, as well as further afield, with exhibitions in Brazil, France, Morocco, Senegal and Spain.