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Zimbabwe Sculpture: A Tradition in Stone

KISSING LOVERS
By Edronce Rukodzi
Born 1952 Guruve District, Zimbabwe

Rukodzi’s "Kissing Lovers," created from Springstone, represents the greeting of a reunited couple and the strong spiritual bond that ties them together. The two figures, both seen in profile, merge to create the image of one figure. He most often sculpts human figures with leaf-like heads and crescent slits for eyes. In cultural terms, the elongated head shape signifies those who live in the spirit world, hidden from view beneath a canopy of trees. As with much of his work, a strong sense of geometry permeates his design.

BIOGRAPHY
Edronce Rukodzi grew up in the Zimbabwean countryside. Rukodzi’s rural background and Shona heritage have always been central to his work. He came upon stone sculpture at the age of 20; when he visited Henry Munyaradzi, a relative, at the Tengenenge sculpture community. In 1974, Rukodzi made $6.00 from the sale of his first sculpture. Ten years later, he began sculpting full-time and soon established himself as a skilled artist. He’s come a long way since then, having shown his work in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Britain and the U.S.
KISSING LOVERS
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WAITING
By Norbert Shamuyarira
Born 1962 Chinoyi, Zimbabwe

The solitary form in "Waiting" portrays the vulnerability that comes with expectations. The figure’s elongated neck underscores the fragile nature of life while the face captures a sense of courage and inner-strength. Shamuyarira’s loss of significant family members at a young age is reflected in sculptures that evoke a profound sense of melancholy. In their shy, self-protective gestures, his forms frequently express loneliness and despair. Shamuyarira chose the very hard Springstone to use for this piece.

BIOGRAPHY
Norbert Shamuyarira began sculpting in 1979 with a first-generation master, Bernard Takawira. For four years, they worked together in Chitungwiza, a community just outside of Harare. Shamuyarira, who now has a studio just behind his house there, is considered one of the best second-generation artists. His work is highly personal and speaks to themes of loss and the strength of the human spirit.
WAITING
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CONVERSATION
By Agnes Nyanhongo
Born 1960 Nyanga, Zimbabwe

Nyanhongo’s strong sense of community and tradition often leads her to interpret Shona myths and Zimbabwean history. The strong fluid lines of her majestic female characters reflect the emotional strength and triumph of women. The three figures in "Conversation" represent the importance of coming together to make things grow and change. Nyanhongo has expressed, in their wonderful faces, the compassion and silent strength of these women. The work has been carved out of Springstone and left unpolished.

BIOGRAPHY
The most accomplished female sculptor from Zimbabwe, Agnes Nyanhongo became interested in stone sculpting as a child. In the studio of her father Claud Nyanhongo (an important first-generation sculptor), she began by polishing his work, then carving her own images. She studied for three years in the National Gallery’s artist training workshop where she was considered an exceptional talent. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is in numerous public and private collections around the world.
CONVERSATION
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WELCOME BABY
By Agnes Nyanhongo
Born 1960 Nyanga, Zimbabwe

Nyanhongo sculpts universally appealing figures that relate to her motherhood and a desire to elevate the status of women in her society. She states, "It is important for me to record and describe the traditions with which I was brought up – I want my children to know them. My work will preserve my ideas in stone long after me." "Welcome Baby" depicts the joyful greeting of mother and child and the tender love they share. Nyanhongo selected Springstone to use for this piece.

BIOGRAPHY
The most accomplished female sculptor from Zimbabwe, Agnes Nyanhongo became interested in stone sculpting as a child. In the studio of her father, Claud Nyanhongo (an important first-generation sculptor), she began by polishing his work, then carving her own images. She studied for three years in the National Gallery’s artist training workshop where she was considered an exceptional talent. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is in numerous public and private collections around the world.
WELCOME BABY
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LEAP FROG
By Dominic Benhura
Born 1968 Murewa, Zimbabwe

LEAP FROGFinding his inspiration at home, Benhura modeled the three joyful children playing “Leapfrog” after his daughters. The figures in this piece, as with much of his work, are very stylized to evoke a sense of movement and whimsy. Benhura has incorporated three separate figures, further enhancing the playful narrative, making it the only work in the Airport collection to use multiple sculptures. With his chisel, he has also created unique surface textures in the Springstone that help to distinguish his work.

BIOGRAPHY
One of the country’s top second-generation sculptors, Dominic Benhura was born in the rural outskirts of Harare. He learned how to shape stone as an apprentice to his cousin, Tapfuma Gutsa, an established sculptor. First, polishing Gutsa’s pieces, later trying out the tools and finally carving his own figures, Benhura developed a style inspired by the natural environment. He sold his first work at the age of 12 and after finishing high school, joined the residence program at Chapungu Sculpture Park. In 1995, he began working in a large outdoor studio behind his home, taking on his own apprentices and sharing his knowledge with other young sculptors. Benhura, who has traveled and exhibited in Europe and the United States, says he is influenced more by Zimbabwean life than by his exposure to the world outside.
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PEACEMAKER
By Gedion Nyanhongo
Born 1967 Nyanga, Zimbabwe

Nyanhongo’s work is about human relationships; it responds to shifting values in Zimbabwean culture. His finely rendered subjects combine spiritual energy with social commentary. In “The Peacemaker,” he portrays a bearded elder in Springstone that is listening patiently to his people while respecting the environment. Nyanhongo, using the raw stone to define the figures’ beard and hair, has created a striking profile that speaks of dignity and wisdom. In many of his sculptures, as in this piece, he has worked wax into chiseled areas to create distinctive textures.

BIOGRAPHY
As a young boy, Gedion Nyanhongo played with the tools in his father’s studio. Nyanhongo, like his siblings, was inspired by their father, Claud Nyanhongo, to become a sculptor. He began carving stone in earnest as an apprentice to the late sculptor Joseph Ndandarika. Nyanhongo completed a residency at Chapungu Sculpture Park before establishing his studio outside Harare. He is one of the most talented and successful of the second-generation sculptors with his work being represented in numerous major international exhibitions.
PEACEMAKER
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GENERATION PYRAMID
By Gedion Nyanhongo
Born 1967 Nyanga, Zimbabwe

"Generation Pyramid," with its four figures of different ages, reminds the viewer to honor every stage of life. This work completed from Springstone showcases Gedion’s amazing technical prowess in crafting finely rendered figures that are full of spirit. As with much of his work, he finds inspiration in human relationships, paying particular attention to the family. As Gedion states, "My work must mark stages of my life, but it must also record the important stages of life around me. This is why I use the hardest stones such as Springstone, so that people will be able to understand these things in the years to come."

BIOGRAPHY
As a young boy, Gedion Nyanhongo played with the tools in his father’s studio. Nyanhongo, like his siblings, was inspired by his father, Claud Nyanhongo, to become a sculptor. He began carving stone in earnest as an apprentice to the late sculptor Joseph Ndandarika. Nyanhongo completed a residency at Chapungu Sculpture Park before establishing his studio outside Harare. He is one of the most talented and successful of the second-generation sculptors with his work being represented in numerous major international exhibitions.
GENERATION PYRAMID
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HWATA (SECRETARY BIRD)
By Amos Supuni
Born 1970 Malawi

Amos Supuni uses a fusion of wood, Springstone and metal to depict this large, long-legged African bird of prey. The sculpture is the only mixed media work in the Airport collection, and it denotes a growing trend among Zimbabwe’s second- and third-generation sculptors to incorporate other materials in their work. While most of the works in the Airport collection depict people, the wildlife of Southern Africa is also a source of inspiration among many artists. Supuni’s adeptness at handling many different materials pays dividends in his ability to express the intricacies of his subject matter.

BIOGRAPHY
Originally from Malawi, Amos Supuni has lived most of his life in Zimbabwe. He became involved with sculpture just after high school in 1989, when he took lessons in a Catholic youth group workshop set up in Tafara, a community just outside Harare. His instructor was the gifted Tapfuma Gutsa. Artists Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Joe Mutasa and the late Henry Munyaradzi have also encouraged Supuni’s evolution as a sculptor. Supuni went to Tanzania in 1991 as part of a cultural exchange program where he learned printmaking and taught stone carving. On his return, he began to focus exclusively on sculpting, eventually setting up his own studio at Silvera House.
HWATA (SECRETARY BIRD)
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TRAVELING FAMILY
By Amos Supuni
Born 1970 Malawi

Family members are the toes on a gigantic foot in the whimsical "Traveling Family." The raw chiseled stone of the foot is contrasted with the sanded and highly polished faces that comprise the toes. Supuni typically works on Springstone, the hardest stone, because he likes its resistance to his tools. These days, Supuni centers on social issues like homelessness and poverty, as well as on communal experiences and cultural icons. As Supuni states, "I sometimes represent the voice of the voiceless. I’m trying to express something for those who can’t express themselves."

BIOGRAPHY
Originally from Malawi, Amos Supuni has lived most of his life in Zimbabwe. He became involved with sculpture just after high school in 1989, when he took lessons in a Catholic youth group workshop set up in Tafara, a community just outside Harare. His instructor was the gifted Tapfuma Gutsa. Artists Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Joe Mutasa and the late Henry Munyaradzi have also encouraged Supuni’s evolution as a sculptor. Supuni went to Tanzania in 1991 as part of a cultural exchange program where he learned printmaking and taught stone carving. On his return, he began to focus exclusively on sculpting, eventually setting up his own studio at Silvera House.
TRAVELING FAMILY
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GALACTIC DANCER
Tapfuma Gutsa
Born 1956 Harare, Zimbabwe

Gutsa's sculptures embrace new techniques and speak to historic and present day Zimbabwean culture. He often combines stone with paint, metal, wood, wire, paper and string in contemporary works that have broad appeal, both at home and abroad. In "Galactic Dancer," one of the artist's most lyrical works, a young woman with a dramatic sweep of hair is moving in rhythm with the forces of nature. Her unpolished yet graceful form is characteristic of Gutsa's style. This work was created from Springstone, which is a very hard dense stone.

BIOGRAPHY
Some of Tapfuma Gutsa’s first creative experiences took place at the Serima Mission and at the Driefontain Mission School in Zimbabwe. Gutsa was the first Zimbabwean to receive a British Council award. The scholarship allowed him to study art for three years in London at the City and Guilds School. Since then, he has been a mentor to many young sculptors, including Dominic Benhura and Amos Supuni, both represented in this exhibition. Influenced by his experiences in the international art scene, Gutsa is the least traditional among the second-generation sculptors. He has expanded the parameters of Zimbabwean stone sculpture.
GALACTIC DANCER
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AT ONE WITH NATURE
By Gladman Zinyeka
1962-2000 Gutu district, Zimbabwe

Centering on the environment, "At One With Nature" depicts a man embracing an eagle. The link between man and nature and the bond they share is poignantly rendered in this monumental work. Zinyeka stated these feelings about this sculpture, "We are talking about nature and conserving. It's very different when you go to the communal lands now, because people realize that the animals should be kept, not hunted," he said. "In my work, I want to show what had become impossible is once again possible – that man and nature can embrace." The stone Zinyeka selected for this piece is Red Jasper.

BIOGRAPHY
The late Gladman Zinyeka became one of Zimbabwe’s most outstanding second-generation sculptors before dying in 2000. He was separated from his family as a child and lived with loss for most of his life. In 1980, he moved to Chitungwiza where he learned how to carve birds and stylized heads by observing local artists. First-generation sculptor Samson Kuvhengurwa was a mentor to Zinyeka and introduced him to abstract forms in 1986, a move that greatly enhanced his work. He established a home studio in 1994, typically keeping more than 50 tons of stone in his courtyard from which to carve. Zinyeka sculpted lyrical and spiritual forms while passing on the sculpting skills to his nephew and other apprentices.
AT ONE WITH NATURE
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WHO WILL RAISE THE CHILD
By Gladman Zinyeka
1962 – 2000 Gutu district, Zimbabwe

The mother, father and child in "Who Will Raise the Child" lament the AIDS epidemic that leaves many children without parents. Thematically, Zinyeka’s sculptures often meditate on the socio-economic effects of displacement and urbanization, as well as ecological issues. The devastating effect of AIDS in Africa was something that impacted Zinyeka's life and prompted him to create this powerful work. The mother in this sculpture, with hands clasped together, seems to plead for the safety and future of her child while the child grasps the legs of the parents in an attempt to maintain their loving presence. This emotionally moving work was created from Springstone.

BIOGRAPHY
The late Gladman Zinyeka became one of Zimbabwe’s most outstanding second-generation sculptors before dying in 2000. He was separated from his family as a child and lived with loss for most of his life. In 1980, he moved to Chitungwiza where he learned how to carve birds and stylized heads by observing local artists. First-generation sculptor Samson Kuvhengurwa was a mentor to Zinyeka and introduced him to abstract forms in 1986, a move that greatly enhanced his work. He established a home studio in 1994, typically keeping more than 50 tons of stone in his courtyard from which to carve. Zinyeka sculpted lyrical and spiritual forms while passing on the sculpting skills to his nephew and other apprentices.
WHO WILL RAISE CHILD
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MADORA (MUPANI WORM)
Nicholas Mukomberanwa
1940 - 2003 Buhera district, Zimbabwe

MADORA (MUPANI WORM)Mukomberanwa found inspiration in his Shona heritage and in his deep respect for the natural and spiritual worlds. In "Madora" a figure emerges from within a rounded Springstone boulder holding mupani worms, a traditional food source in Zimbabwe, in each hand. Mukomberanwa’s sculpture expresses man’s reliance on nature, suggests that we appreciate the sustenance that nature provides and comments on the changing face of Zimbabwean culture. His sculptures, marked by symmetry, high polish and exaggerated features, range from soft, rounded forms to sharp geometric shapes.

BIOGRAPHY
Nicholas Mukomberanwa, one of the most revered first-generation sculptors, had long been a guide to many younger artists. As a child, he was introduced to woodcarving at the Serima Mission School, but not until years later did he begin carving stone. In 1962, he joined the Workshop School of the Rhodes National Gallery where he was guided by gallery director Frank McEwen, who had an enormous impact on his art making. His works can be found in major museum collections around the world. In his life, through his mentoring of younger artists and with his sculpture Nicholas forever touched the lives of so many people.
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NZUZU (WATER SPIRIT)
Nicholas Mukomberanwa
1940 - 2003 Buhera district, Zimbabwe

NZUZU (WATER SPIRIT)Buying tons of Serpentine and Springstone from a mountain quarry near Tengenenge, Mukomberanwa sculpts with hand tools in a spontaneous reflexive process. He states, "The way I create, and probably many others do the same, is that I actually get inspiration from the natural stone. There has to be a dialogue between you and the stone. What I do is highlight what already has been achieved by nature." In "Nzuzu," a mythical spirit evokes its transforming and healing power. Mukomberanwa uses the lines of the hair and placement of the beautifully rendered hands and feet to accentuate the graceful flow of the horizontal figure and capture the feel of water. The stone Nicholas chose for this piece is Green Serpentine.

BIOGRAPHY
Nicholas Mukomberanwa, one of the most revered first-generation sculptors, had long been a guide to many younger artists. As a child, he was introduced to wood carving at the Serima Mission School, but not until years later did he begin carving stone. In 1962, he joined the Workshop School of the Rhodes National Gallery where he was guided by gallery director Frank McEwen, who had an enormous impact on his art making. His works can be found in major museum collections around the world. In his life, through his mentoring of younger artists and with his sculpture Nicholas forever touched the lives of so many people.
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PROTECTED FAMILY
By Joe Mutasa
Born 1964 Rusape, Zimbabwe

For Mutasa, family relationships and their role in a transforming Shona society are the focus of his narrative style. In "Protected Family," the tallest piece in the Airport collection, an enormous hand gently encircles a mother, father and child. Elongated, elegant forms that have highly polished aces that are contrasted by chiseled, unpolished bodies characterize Mutasa's figures. Mutasa's impressive technique is evident in the forms he has achieved with many different kinds of stone. The stone Mutasa used for "Protected Family" is Springstone.

BIOGRAPHY
Joe Mutasa believes he was born an artist. While a young man, he left studies in public relations to take up sculpting. Working for a local company with his older brother, Gregory, he began carving Verdite busts and animals. He gradually tired of realism and became increasingly interested in portraying emotion. His sculpting changed radically in 1987, when he joined a group of artists working at Chapungu Sculpture Park. Samson Kuvhenguhwa, a member of the group, inspired Mutasa to become even more serious about expressing his inner feelings and honing his technical skills.
PROTECTED FAMILY
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EXERCISING MAN
By Sylvester Mubayi
Born 1942 Chiota reserve, Zimbabwe

Made out of Springstone and with its highly polished finish, the fluid figure in "Exercising Man" is bending and stretching. In contrast to Mubayi's other work in the collection, which draws its inspiration from the spirit world, he has selected a facet of contemporary life to translate into stone. The man's face, with its smooth rounded head and deep penetrating eyes, is characteristic of Mubayi's figures. Through the years, he has maintained a traditional, intuitive approach to the stone.

BIOGRAPHY
Sylvester Mubayi was introduced to stone sculpture on a visit to the National Gallery in 1966. He soon joined the sculptors' community founded by Tom Blomefield in Tengenenge. Having no formal art training, Mubayi worked hard to become one of the community's leading first-generation sculptors. Mubayi's sculptures gained international visibility when they were exhibited abroad in the early 1970s. Through the years, he has maintained a traditional, intuitive approach to the stone and continues to be one of the top sculptors in Zimbabwe.
EXERCISING MAN
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PROTECTING SPIRIT
By Sylvester Mubayi
Born 1942 Chiota reserve, Zimbabwe

Mubayi often merges human and animal worlds in his sculpture, reflecting both spiritual and earthly themes. In "Protecting Spirit," a spiritual presence with human form stands guard over children protecting them from harm. With the eye placed in the figure's hand, Mubayi has created a powerful totemic presence that speaks to the mystery of the spiritual world. Expressing the spirit world and its connectedness to Zimbabwean culture is very important to Mubayi. As with most of Mubayi's work, he used the very hard Springstone for this piece.

BIOGRAPHY
Sylvester Mubayi was introduced to stone sculpture on a visit to the National Gallery in 1966. He soon joined the sculptors' community founded by Tom Blomefield in Tengenenge. Having no formal art training, Mubayi worked hard to become one of the community's leading first-generation sculptors. Mubayi's sculptures gained international visibility when they were exhibited abroad in the early 1970s. Through the years, he has maintained a traditional, intuitive approach to the stone and continues to be one of the top sculptors in Zimbabwe.
PROTECTING SPIRIT
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WOMAN SHOWING TRADITIONAL SALUTE
By Edronce Rukodzi
Born 1952 Guruve District, Zimbabwe

In "Woman Showing Traditional Salute," Rukodzi illustrates a respectful salutation to village elders. His personal style appears in the patterned motifs that embellish his work. Using a hammer and chisel, he carves lines and geometric shapes in the Springstone's surface, producing elegant designs and rich surface textures. This unique surface quality is sharply contrasted with the sculpture's highly polished eyes, nose and mouth that imbue the figure with a quiet grace. The work reflects the artists' desire to document and preserve all aspects of Shona culture.

BIOGRAPHY
Edronce Rukodzi grew up in the Zimbabwean countryside. Rukodzi's rural background and Shona heritage have always been central to his work. He came upon stone sculpture at the age of 20 when he visited a relative at the Tengenenge sculpture community. In 1974, Rukodzi made $6 from the sale of his first sculpture. Ten years later, he began sculpting full-time and soon established himself as a skilled artist. He's come a long way since then, having shown his work in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Britain and the United States.
WOMAN SHOWING TRADITIONAL SALUTE
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CARING MOTHER
By Lameck Bonjisi
1973 - 2003 Mutoko, Zimbabwe

Bonjisi, like many Zimbabwean sculptors, drew his ideas from both traditional and contemporary Shona culture. "Caring Mother" pays homage to a mother's love for her children and the close bond they share. The Green Serpentine stone's rich color is dramatically contrasted by the natural brown streaks that have been creatively transformed by the artist into the mother's hair. His style – clearly inspired by first-generation sculptor, Nicholas Mukomberanwa – was defined by exaggerated sharp angles and straight lines. Though much of his work was figurative, he became increasingly interested in abstractions of the human physique.

BIOGRAPHY
Lameck Bonjisi, whose parents are from Mozambique, was born and raised in Zimbabwe. He became a full-time artist at the age of 17 with the guidance of master sculptor Nicholas Mukomberanwa. From 1990-91, he worked as Mukomberanwa's apprentice, and then went on to establish his own name. Gladman Zinyeka, Gedion Nyanhongo and Lazarus Takawira have been other influences on his artistic growth. Lameck was considered one of Zimbabwe's most successful second-generation artists. He is the youngest sculptor represented in this exhibition.
CARING MOTHER
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HOW CAN I RISE
By Norbert Shamuyarira
Born 1962 Chinoyi, Zimbabwe

LEAP FROG"How Can I Rise" makes a strong personal statement about the inner strength that may overcome adversity. The figure, reclining in a posture suggesting grief or suffering, has large features that are carved in a stylized manner. The large hands are especially expressive and dynamically reinforce the meaning inherent in the work's title. This work made from Springstone is the largest ever produced by Shamuyarira, who typically works on a smaller scale.

BIOGRAPHY
Norbert Shamuyarira began sculpting in 1979 with a first-generation master, Bernard Takawira. For four years, they worked together in Chitungwiza, a community just outside of Harare. Shamuyarira, who now has a studio just behind his house there, is considered one of the best second-generation artists. His work is highly personal and speaks to themes of loss and the strength of the human spirit.
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