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African art

"It is extraordinary to think that of the leading ten sculptor-carvers in the world perhaps five come from Zimbabwe."
- Daily Telegraph, London

"The hottest art form out of Africa continues to be the Shona stone carvings from Zimbabwe. Considered to be among the best carvers in the world, the top Shona sculptors have drawn critics' raves at various exhibits in Europe - in London, Frankford, Paris, Vienna, Stockholm and the Hague and even America."
- The New York Newsday - Les Payne

"Zimbabwe's stone sculpture is unique, not only because of its individual form and content, which is highly valued and acclaimed in the art centres of the world, but because it springs from the indigenous talent that lay hidden until the 1960's."
- Celia Winter-Irving, Author "Contemporary Stone Sculpture in Zimbabwe Context, Content and Form"

Published Monday, December 8, 2003
SHOWCASING A CONTINENT'S BEAUTY

Polk Museum Acquires Dozens Of Pieces of African Art

By Rebecca Mahoney
The Ledger
rebecca.mahoney@theledger.com

Visitors to the Polk Museum of Art can now experience the beauty of African artwork, thanks to a gift from a Winter Haven couple.

Norma and William Roth recently gave the museum more than 50 pieces of African art, including authentic hats and capes, bags and vessels. The contribution marks the first significant expansion to the museum's collection in about 15 years.

"It's safe to say that most people haven't seen art like this before," said Todd Behrens, the museum's curator of art. "It's going to have a significant impact in terms of education."

The collection includes 57 pieces from South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, many of them beaded. It will be on display at the museum through Jan. 25, and museum workers hope to create a permanent display area on the building's second floor in the near future, Behrens said.

While the museum has acquired new pieces every year -- most notably a bench by renowned sculptor Albert Paley and a Miriam Schapiro painting -- this collection is so vast it allows the museum to branch out in a completely new direction, Behrens said.

The museum has long focused on its collections of pre-Colombian, contemporary, Asian and European decorative arts, and this contribution allows the museum to broaden its scope in a fifth direction, he said.

 

The Roths are well-known art collectors, and have donated pieces from their collection to museums all over the East Coast. They'vegiven more than 200 pieces to the Polk Museum alone, Behrens said.

Norma Roth said she and her husband donated the African pieces because they wanted to expose people to an art form they may not have seen before.

"I felt African art is an area this community has totally overlooked," she said. "We have a very large African-American population (in Polk County), and it occurred to me that this was a way of making a connection with a very vital and important part of our community."

She said she hoped the museum would encourage schools to take advantage of the collection.

The artworks are primarily functional pieces -- items made mostly by women and worn and used by their owners. They aren't meant to be only decorative, but they are beautiful, Roth said.

"They come from a heritage that is long, that is traditional," Roth said. "They come from an authenticity of experience."

Other pieces in the collection include wedding capes, blankets, aprons, beaded animal horns and leather bags.

"This collection gives the community a foot out into the world of experience and cultural understanding," said Daniel Stetson, the museum's executive director. "These are beautiful pieces. They add a significant diversity to what we were able to present prior to this."

Rebecca Mahoney can be reached at 863-802-7548 or rebecca.mahoney@theledger.com.


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Sultan, Olivier. Life in stone: Zimbabwean sculpture; birth of a contemporary art form. Harare: Baobab Books, 1992. x, 86pp. illus. NB1096.6.R5S95 1992 AFA. OCLC 27981056.

Sultan has organized exhibitions of Zimbabwe stone sculpture in Harare and in Paris; he sees his role without apology as art promoter and is quite keen to bring this work to European audiences. This book serves his goal. His audience is one of non-specialists, who want a reliable, accurate introduction to the subject and are willing to spend more than a few minutes leafing through photographs (although his book is comprised mainly of photographs). The photographs are all black and white. Sultan discusses the origins of the art movement and the seminal (some would say, domineering) role of Frank McEwen, director of the then National Gallery of Rhodesia, in its formation and international promotion. An alternative center developed at Tom Blomefield's tobacco farm, Tengenenge, and another center later emerged at Roy Guthrie's Chapungu. Sultan sees three phases in the evolution of this young movement: the early years under McEwen's tutelage (1957-1973), the war years after McEwen's departure (1973-1980), and the post-independence era. He devotes less attention to the recent period.

He highlights the work of fifteen sculptors: John Takawira, Henry Munyaradzi, Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Bernard Takawira, Tapfuma Gutsa, Lazarus Takawira, Joseph Ndandarika, Bernard Matemera, Fanizani Akuda, Brighton Sango, Joram Mariga, Norbert Shamuyarira, Sylvester Mubayi, Richard Jack, and Eddie Masaya.

Reviewed by Janet L. Stanley in African book publishing record (Oxford) 19 (4): 229, 1993; by Johnston A. K. Njoku in Africa today (Denver) 41 (2): 98-99, 1994; by Stephen Williams in Africa today (Denver) 41 (2): 100-101, 1994; by Carlo Magee-Curtis in African arts (Los Angeles) 27 (3): 24, July 1994.


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Talking stones / a Granada Television Production for ITV; narrated by John Bowe; produced and directed by Tony Bulley. 60 minutes. Videocassette. VHS. sd., color, ½in. Title on cover: Zimbabwe: talking stones. Distributed by Films for the Humanities & Social Sciences, P. O. Box 2053, Princeton, NJ 08543-2053. video 000228 AFA. OCLC 28287035.

A look at the Shona stone sculpture movement and how it has evolved. Frank McEwen, founding director of the Workshop School at the Rhodes National Gallery, is clearly the protagonist in this story -- present at the creation and instrumental in its development. Interviewed at the end of his life, McEwen can look back with some of the same uncompromising spirit that made him a controversial figure throughout his life and career in Rhodesia. Talking stones also includes segments with Roy Guthrie, of Chapunga Sculpture Park, Tom Blomefield, rogue tobacco farmer-turned-sculptor and founded of Tengenenge Sculpture Community, and several of the artists, who speak about their work and inspirations. Among those interviewed are Tapfuma Gutsa, Joram Mariga, Lemon Moses, Sylvester Mubayi, Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Bernard Takawira, and Lazarus Takawira. The issue of commercialization of the stone sculpture is also addressed and how it affects both established artists and the copyists seeking to earn an honest dollar.


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Winter-Irving, Celia. Stone sculpture in Zimbabwe: context, content and form. Harare: Roblaw Publishers, 1991. xviii, 210pp. illus., bibliog. NB1096.6.R5W78 1991 AFA. OCLC 26124120.

Zimbabwe's stone sculptors have found an able and enthusiastic publicist in Celia Winter-Irving, a transplanted Australian sculptor and former gallery director, who has taken up the cause of this "home-grown movement" with an intensity and vigor that makes us sit up and take notice. Her sincere enthusiasm comes through clearly in these pages as she addresses the origins of the sculpture, its formal qualities and relationship to other sculptural traditions in Africa and elsewhere, the cultural origins of the sculpture's subject matter (rejecting the appellation "Shona sculpture"), the seminal role of Frank McEwen and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, and the contributions of the Tengenenge Sculpture Community.

One long chapter is turned over to the artists to voice their own perceptions of their art. Based on interviews, twenty-three sculptors are profiled, presumably selected as representing some of the best and brightest (though not all are household names). Included are: Sanwell Chirume, Barankinya Gosta, Tapfuma Gutsa, Makina Kameya, Wazi Maicolo, Amali Mailolo, Damien Manuhwa, Josia Manzi, Joram Mariga, Moses Masaya, Bernard Matemera, Richard Mteki, Thomas Mukarombwa, Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Joseph Muli, Henry Munyaradzi, Joseph Ndandarika, Locardia Ndandarika, Agnes Nyanhongo, Brighton Sango, Bernard Takawira, John Takawira, and Lazarus Takawira.

By way of deep background, Winter-Irving offers some views on Zimbabwe's cultural and artistic past -- Great Zimbabwe and San rock art. Moving forward in time, she considers next the colonial impact on the visual arts in Zimbabwe, then contemporary arts other than stone sculpture. Finally, she tackles the thorny question of quality and its opposite pole: over-commercialization of the art. Private, foreign and corporate patronage and government sponsorship are all key elements in this discussion. All in all, Stone sculpture in Zimbabwe is probably the most useful book to begin a study of the subject.


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Winter-Irving, Celia. Contemporary stone sculpture in Zimbabwe: context, content and form. Tortola, BVI: Craftsman House, 1993. 203pp. illus. (pt. color), bibliog. NB1096.6.R5W78c 1993 AFA. OCLC 28397803.

A more lavish, larger format and better illustrated edition of Stone sculpture in Zimbabwe was published in 1993 by Craftsman House under the slightly modified title. The text is the same. Reviewed: "The speaking stones of Zimbabwe," Caribbean times/African times (London) June 29, 1993, page 16.


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Zilberg, Jonathan Leslie. Zimbabwean stone sculpture: the invention of a Shona tradition / by Jonathan Leslie Zilberg. PhD dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana­Champaign, 1996. xiv, 332 leaves : illus., map, bibliog. (leaves 300­323). NB1209.Z55Z5 1996a AFA. OCLC 37149185.

This thesis details how Zimbabwean stone sculpture has been creatively conceived in terms of a "tribal" renaissance by the first director of the National Gallery in Harare, Zimbabwe, Frank McEwen. Despite the complexity belying the movement's history, McEwen initiated the Shona sculpture discourse through drawing upon theories about artistic revivals developed by French art historian Henri Focillon as well as the pedagogical techniques of the nineteenth century symbolist painter Gustave Moreau. In doing so, McEwen presented the works created during his tenure (1957-1973) as the re-emergence of an ancient Shona tradition. He heralded Shona sculpture as a cultural revival that would stimulate a return to the spiritual in modern European art which he construed as hopelessly trivialized. Through a critical analysis of his writings, the dissertation reveals the complexity subsumed in the construction of a tradition rooted in essentialist conceptualizations of ethnicity and history and heavily inflected by early modernist and symbolist ideas of art as sacred.

In contrast to the McEwen's widely accepted conceptualization that there have been no foreign influences on this tradition, the dissertation demonstrates African influences other than Shona. In addition to revealing these influences and the links to early modern European art through McEwen's inspirational role, the dissertation describes how the tradition is linked to the British Arts and Crafts Movement through the life-works of Canon Edward Paterson, an Anglican missionary who trained the first modern Zimbabwean stone sculptors.

The dissertation situates Shona sculpture in a specific relation to the study of tourist art as Frank McEwen defined it to be the unique historical antithesis of tourist art--or, as he termed it "airport" art. Hence this study details an ongoing debate over the need to differentiate "real" from "fake" Shona sculpture. Beyond problemizing the issue of authenticity, the thesis concludes that while many artists do perceive their works to be expressive of Shona culture, others struggle to transcend the ethnic label so as to be accepted in the modern art world as contemporary international artists in their own right. -- original abstract.


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Zimbabwe Heritage (1986: National Gallery of Zimbabwe). Zimbabwe heritage: contemporary visual arts: [commemorative catalogue for the 8th summit of Non-Aligned States, Zimbabwe: National Gallery of Zimbabwe annual exhibition -- Nedlaw contemporary sculpture, Baringa contemporary painting, graphics, ceramics, textiles, and photography, 25 August-28 September 1986]. Harare: [National Gallery of Zimbabwe], 1986. 80pp. illus. (color), bibliog. qN5290.Z55Z71 1986 AFA. OCLC 15095188.

This is the first in a new annual exhibition of contemporary Zimbabwean art juried by an international panel; it combines the annual Nedlaw sculpture exhibition, begun in 1981, and the Baringa exhibition which recognizes painting, graphics, ceramics, textiles and photography. The overall grand prize winner for 1986 was sculptor Bernard Matermera. Gillian Wylie, curator at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, introduces the exhibition. Includes color illustrated section and short biographies of the artists.


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Zimbabwe Heritage (1987: National Gallery of Zimbabwe). Zimbabwe heritage 1987. Harare: National Gallery of Zimbabwe, 1987. 48pp. illus. (color). qN5290.Z55Z71 1987 AFA. OCLC 17515993.

The second comprehensive competition of Zimbabwean art followed the lines of the original 1986 one with two exhibitions in one: the Nedlaw exhibition for sculpture and the Baringa exhibition for painting, graphics, ceramics and textiles. Tapfuma Gutsa won the Nedlaw with his smoldering grass engulfing a wood bird, which turned into a performance piece. Berry Bickle won the Baringa competition for his mixed media work. Elimo Njau, one of the panel of jurors, makes some overall comments on the strengths and weaknesses of "Zimbabwe Heritage" 1987.


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Zimbabwe Heritage (1988: National Gallery of Zimbabwe). Zimbabwe Heritage 1988: annual Baringa-Nedlaw exhibition. Harare: National Gallery of Zimbabwe, 1988. 48pp. color illus., ports. qN5290.Z55Z71 1988 AFA. OCLC 19882457.

The third annual juried art competition, "Zimbabwe Heritage" awarded prizes in painting/graphics, textiles, ceramics, photography and sculpture. Overall winner was Bernard Takawira. Nedlaw award for best sculptural work went to July Nyengera. The Baringa prize for best painting, graphics, ceramics, textiles or photography went to painter Bert Hermsteed. The competition, organized by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, fields a growing number of artists each year. Awards of merit and highly commended works are illustrated in color. Very brief biographies of the artists are included.


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Zimbabwe Heritage (1989: National Gallery of Zimbabwe). Zimbabwe Heritage 1989: Baringa/Nedlaw annual exhibition of contemporary visual arts: National Gallery of Zimbabwe; [exhibition held October 1989]. Harare: National Gallery of Zimbabwe, 1989. 60pp. illus. (pt. color), ports. qN5290.Z55Z71 1989 AFA. OCLC 21400145.

The fourth annual juried art competition, "Zimbabwe Heritage," awarded prizes in painting/graphics, textiles, ceramics, photography and sculpture. Sculptor Nicholas Mukomberanwa received the top award. The Nedlaw awards for outstanding sculpture went to three sculptors: Nicholas Mukomberanwa (again), Bernard Takawira (last year's grand prize winner), and metal sculptor Paul Machowani. The Baringa award went to an outsider, Fidgie Ngombe, a painter of promise, who has come up the hard way. Organized by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, the competition fields a growing number of artists each year; in 1989 alone, there were 548 works submitted with sculpture being the largest category. Awards of merit and highly commended works are illustrated in color. Very brief biographies of the artists are included. Some of the 1989 entries were to be re-exhibited in Auckland, New Zealand, at the Commonwealth Games, January 1990.


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Zimbabwe Heritage (1990: National Gallery of Zimbabwe). Zimbabwe Heritage 1990: Mobile Oil Zimbabwe annual exhibition of contemporary visual arts: National Gallery of Art Zimbabwe; [exhibition, October 1990]. [Harare]: National Gallery of Zimbabwe, 1990. 60pp. illus. (pt. color), ports. N5290.Z55Z71 1990 AFA. OCLC 26118015.

This was the fifth "Zimbabwe Heritage" exhibition, now a well established annual event in Harare. The international panel of judges selected more than four hundred works from among those submitted. Although the category of stone sculpture still predominates, other areas, such as painting and textiles, show increased vitality and creativity. In addition to awards by medium, the judges also honored young artists of promise and women artists (trained and self-taught). The top award in 1990 went to painter Helen Lieros. The works of winners are reproduced in color in this catalog, and short biographies of all the artists are given.

Exhibition reviewed by Celia Winter-Irving, "Zimbabwe Heritage 1990 annual exhibition of contemporary visual arts," Artist (Harare) 1 (9): 4-5, November/December 1990.


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Zimbabwe Heritage (1991: National Gallery of Zimbabwe). Zimbabwe Heritage 91: commemorative catalogue. [Harare]: National Gallery of Zimbabwe, 1991. 64pp. illus. (pt. color). N5290.Z55Z71z 1991 AFA. OCLC 25769391.

The sixth "Zimbabwe Heritage" exhibition introduced a new feature: invited artists. In addition to the open competition, five recognized and established artists were invited to show works. They included painters Berry Bickle and Helen Lieros and sculptors Bernard Matemera, Bernard Takawira and Agnes Nyanhongo. Grand prize winner in 1991 was Nicholas Mukomberanwa. Further awards were made in each of the media categories and others were given for outstanding women artists and young artists. Artists' biographies are included.


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Zimbabwe Heritage (1992: National Gallery of Zimbabwe). Zimbabwe Heritage 1992: annual exhibition of contemporary visual arts sponsored by Mobil: National Gallery of Zimbabwe; [exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, October 1991-October 1992]. [Harare]: National Gallery of Zimbabwe, 1992. 56pp. illus. (pt. color). N5290.Z55Z71 1992 AFA. OCLC 27916976.

"Zimbabwe Heritage" for 1992 continued the feature introduced in 1991 of inviting artists of distinction to exhibit alongside the competitors. This year's invitees each represented different media: Babette Fitzgerald ("textilist"), Never Kayowa (painter), Nicholas Mukomberanwa (sculptor), Linos Mushambi (graphics), and Estelle Zimi (ceramicist). The grand prize winner was Bernard Takawira and the top two director's awards went to Rashid Jogee and Steven Williams. The works of these and other award winners in the media categories are illustrated.


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Zimbabwe Heritage (1993: National Gallery of Zimbabwe). Zimbabwe Heritage 1993: annual exhibition of contemporary visual arts sponsored by Mobil: National Gallery of Zimbabwe; [exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, November 1993-1994]. [Harare]: National Gallery of Zimbabwe, 1993. 47pp. illus. (pt. color). qN5290.Z55Z71 1993 AFA. OCLC 31926253.

The eighth "Zimbabwe Heritage" exhibition with its ever more complex array of "invited," "selected," "award-winning," and "highly commended" artists remains a good barometer of the national art scene. In the 1993 exhibition, there were 307 entries, representing a cross section of established and emerging artists. Stone sculpture continues to dominate the field, but the painting, graphics, and metal sculpture sections show more innovation. Among those singled out for awards of distinction were Luis Meque (painting), Kier Turner (graphics), Gladman Zinyeka (stone sculpture) and Martin Mushonga (metal sculpture). The president's award of honor in 1993 went to invited artist Nicholas Mukumberanwa.


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Zimbabwe Heritage (1994: National Gallery of Zimbabwe). Zimbabwe Heritage 1994: annual exhibition of contemporary visual arts sponsored by Mobil: National Gallery of Zimbabwe; [exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, October 1994-January 1995]. [Harare]: National Gallery of Zimbabwe, 1994. 47pp. illus. (pt. color). qN5290.Z55Z71 1994 AFA. OCLC 32767098.

The ninth annual "Zimbabwe Heritage" exhibition was smaller than in previous years -- 258 entries -- but equally dynamic and diverse. The president's award of honor went to Bulawayo sculptor Adam Madebe, and the honored artist was the venerable Thomas Mukarombwa (aka Thomas Mu). Some new names emerged in the awards of distinction: Fasoni Sibanda (painting), Mary Davies (graphics), Sure Try Katinhimure (stone sculpture), and Tapiwa Vambe (metal sculpture).


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Zimbabwe Heritage (1996 : National Gallery of Zimbabwe). Zimbabwe Heritage 96: annual exhibition of contemporary visual arts; [November 1995-November 1996] / National Gallery of Zimbabwe, [sponsored by Mobil, AAC]. [Harare]: National Gallery of Zimbabwe, 1996. 43pp. chiefly color illus., portraits. N5290.Z55Z71 1996 AFA. OCLC 38075001.

The eleventh annual "Zimbabwe Heritage" exhibition seemed more selective than in previous years -- only 226 entries in paintings and graphics, textiles, ceramics, photography, and sculpture from just over one hundred artists. The president's award of honor went to the venerable Bernard Matemera; other awards of distinction and merit went to Ishmael Wilfred, Shepherd Mahufe, Joseph Muzonda, Godfrey Machinjiei, Martin Kafara, and Anderson Mukomberanwa. Their works and those of lesser award winners are illustrated in color. Biodata is included for all artists.


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Zimbabwe, Skulpturen 1986-1988 ; [exhibition held at the Forum für Kulturaustausch in Stuttgart] / [text by Hermann Pollig and Monika Winkler]. Stuttgart: Institut fur Auslandsbeziehungen, [1988]. 86pp. illus. (pt. color), bibliog. NB1209.Z55Z56 1989X AFA. OCLC 21375011.

The Zimbabwe stone sculpture movement continues to gather new practitioners, but is a young enough tradition that some of the original artists are still quite active. The recent work of established artists, such as Bernard Takawira, Henry Munyaradzi, and Bernard Matemera, are featured in this exhibition alongside that of a younger generation of artists; seventy works in all are illustrated.

In the catalog essay, Harrie Leyten recounts the history and evolution of this stone carving tradition; its very commercial success carries the risk of attracting imitators and "airport artists." The two major centers of Zimbabwe stone sculpture -- the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare (originally under Frank McEwen and now the B.A.T. School) and Tengenenge Farm (Tom Blomefield) -- have evolved on parallel yet distinct lines. A clue to the future of this tradition is offered in the work of Stanford Dereres, whose choice of political themes and use of new combinations of materials, suggest a departure from the usual repertoire of animal, human and mythological forms.

 

 

 

African art - A reading list

The African Workshop School / text by Frank McEwen; photography by Sylvia Beck. [Salisbury: National Gallery of Rhodesia, 1967]. [34]pp. illus. NB1096.6.R5A25 AFA. OCLC 5993013.

This booklet, consisting mainly of photographs, is of interest as an historical document of the Zimbabwe stone sculpture movement. The early photographs of sculptors, who have now aged along with the movement, are shown here at work or at play. They and others are referred to by McEwen, familiarly and cryptically, with single names -- "Fly," "Ask," "Simon" -- we wonder who they really are.

What is also interesting in retrospect is the veil of romanticism that was already being draped over the sculptors -- "mystically inclined and armed with endless patience...with an inherent belief in ancestor worship and the realm of the unseen." The workshop school, ten years up and running by 1967, took pride in being self-supporting from sale of works. Commerce was part and parcel of the movement from the very beginning.

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Arnold, Marion. Zimbabwean stone sculpture. Bulawayo: Louis Bolze, 1986. xxvi, 234pp. illus., map, bibliog. OCLC 18909483.

Arnold's thesis was the first major study of contemporary Zimbabwean stone sculpture. The scope is somewhat broader in that she considers also ancient stone sculpture -- the stone birds and monoliths of Great Zimbabwe. Her focus is on Shona iconography rather than on the art movement as a whole in all its sociological and commercial aspects (as Winter-Irving's 1991 book is). An art historical study, Zimbabwean stone sculpture discusses form and content, including human, animal and supernatural imagery, by looking at the work of a select group of Shona sculptors. The biographies of these twenty-one sculptors are given in an appendix (pp. 183-197). Other stone sculptors, not discussed in the text but who have participated in exhibitions, are listed in a separate appendix.

Although Arnold does not argue any direct connection between the ancient stone sculpture and the modern, she does suggest that Shona carving in wood and molding in clay of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures provided iconographical base and technical expertise on which the modern sculptors drew -- once the new incentive, an art for art's sake, was introduced.

The original research on which this book is based was the author's master's thesis entitled: Some aspects of iconography in selected Shona sculptures. This reprint of the 1981 edition (Bulawayo: Books of Zimbabwe) incorporates place-name changes and offers a new postscript.


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Coming of age: zeitgenössische Kunst aus Zimbabwe: Chikonzero Chazunguza, Doreen Sibanda, Voti Thebe, Ishmael Wilfred, Craig Wylie und die Bildhauer: Bernard Matemera, Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Joseph Muzondo, John Takawira. Aschaffenburg: Städtische Galerie Jesuitenkirche, 1998. 96pp. illus. (color). (Forum Aschaffenburg, 20). [not available for review]


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Contemporary stone carving from Zimbabwe : [exhibition] Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 22 July-25 November 1990. [Wakefield, England]: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 1990. 60pp. chiefly illus. (pt. color). qNB1209.Z55C76 1990 AFA. OCLC 23359729.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park was an elegant setting for what was the largest exhibition of Zimbabwe stone sculpture ever assembled. Thirty-six artists were featured, early masters and younger sculptors alike; their works are photographed in situ at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The catalog text offers three perspectives on the Zimbabwe stone sculpture phenomenon. Frank McEwen, who was present at the creation of this art movement, but has now departed from the scene, shares some personal reflections from his unique vantage point. Art critic Michael Shepherd assesses the work from the opposite pole: an outsider who has never been to Zimbabwe. Thirdly, Joram Mariga, sometimes credited with being the original Zimbabwe stone carver, certainly one of the first, speaks of his own work. Artists' biographies and a glossary of stone of Zimbabwe are included.

Exhibition reviewed by Gemma Nesbitt, "Captivating sculpture," Southern African economist (Harare) 3 (5): 45-46, October-November 1990.


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Cousins, Jane. "The making of Zimbabwean sculpture," Third text; Third World perspectives on contemporary art and culture (London) no. 13: 31-42, winter 1991. illus., notes. NX1.T445 AFA.

The commodification of Zimbawean stone sculpture has been a problem right from the beginning both for its promoters and its detractors. Since Independence it has become a political commodity as well, symbolizing a national cultural identity and promoted as such by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe and others. Yet for most Zimbabweans, "traditional" stone sculpture remains alien, or rather, they remain notably indifferent to it. Its commercial success is international, not local. Cousins explores why this is so and why the handful of artists who are trying to break out of this mold are finding it so hard to do. Among these younger artists pursuing their own intellectual visions are Tapfuma Gutsa and Vote Thebe.


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Kennedy, Jean. "The sculptors of Zimbabwe: artists with an old legacy," pp. 158-168. In: New currents, ancient rivers: contemporary African artists in a generation of change. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992. illus., bibl. refs. (page 192). N7391.65.K46 1992X AFA. OCLC 22389510.

The stone sculpture movement in Zimbabwe has provoked much discussion about authenticity, quality, commercialism, and imitation in art, but after almost four decades it remains a vital and successful movement, like it or not. Kennedy's retelling of the story of Zimbabwe stone sculpture focuses on the formative period, during which the first generation of artists emerged. Many of them are still (or until recently were) active -- Sylvester Mubayi (1942- ), Joseph Ndandorika (1940- ), the late John Takawira (1938-1989), Henry Munyaradzi (1931- ), and Joram Mariga (1927- ).


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Kennedy, Jean. "Sky and land in Zimbabwe," pp. 155-157. In: New currents, ancient rivers: contemporary African artists in a generation of change. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992. illus., bibl. refs. (page 192). N7391.65.K46 1992X AFA. OCLC 22389510.

The genesis of modern art in Zimbabwe was in the Workshop School at the National Gallery, the brain child of Frank McEwen (1907-1994). In the beginning (in the late 1950s) painting and woodcarving were taught, but eventually stone carving predominated, according to the gospel of McEwen. This abortive effort at painting did produce one painter of note -- Thomas Mukarobgwa (1924- ). Though he, too, abandoned painting for stone sculpture, he has, interestingly, been encouraged to return to this medium in the 1990s.

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Kileff, Clive and Maricarol Kileff. Street sellers of Zimbabwe stone sculpture: artists and entrepreneurs. Gweru: Mambo Press, 1996. xii, 68pp. illus. (pt. color), bibliog. (pp. 67-68). HF5459.Z55K55 1996X AFA. OCLC 35948827.

The Zimbabwe stone sculpture movement has always been as much about commerce as about art. From its inception in the late 1950s, the debates have centered on issues of authenticity, fine art versus tourist art, and distinguishing the "real" artists from the imitators and hacks. No one has really focused on the lower end of the high art-low art spectrum -- the street sellers, entrepreneurs who earn a livelihood from making and hawking sculpture. The Kileffs' short study is a refreshing look at the small business end of art production in Zimbabwe. It begins with the premise that this business is perfectly legitimate and worthy. Far from adopting a dismissive stance toward these individuals, the Kileffs admire the artist-entrepreneurs for their industriousness and initiative. The authors side-step the concerns of the art establishment, and squarely investigate what goes on outside the air-conditioned art gallery. From this vantage point it is all about economics and survival strategies in a competitive marketplace. Seven marketing strategies are identified and discussed: solo street walkers, roadside stand, rented overnight stand, collective ownership stand, curio shop, diversified communal venture, and gallery. Consumer behavior is carefully scrutinized by the sellers, and they adapt their selling pitch and negotiating patter accordingly: the soft sell, one upmanship, name your price, privately under-cutting the going prices, the absent sculptor represented by another who cannot adjust prices, and mass bombardment.

The vignettes of life stories of individual artist-entrepreneurs, which the Kileffs have collected, speak to aspirations, acquired skills, and economic realities. Many of the artists are school-leavers seeking to make an honest dollar; several are women; some are family enterprises; a few are venturing as far afield as Cape Town, South Africa, to sell their wares. Although only a tiny fraction of Zimbabwe street sellers will ever make it to the art gallery circuit, most dream of doing so. But in a postmodern world, issues of quality are being swept aside, as elite cultural authority is challenged. Commodification of art is a great leveler. Does it matter who makes art or where art is sold?

Despite a postscript on "A post-modern evaluation of the quality of street sellers' art," this is not a study weighted down with heavily-worded analysis and lots of statistics; it reads almost anecdotely, like an essay that grows out of personal interest rather than academic necessity. Illustrated with photographs of the artist-entrepreneurs.

Reviewed by M. F. C. Bourdillon in Zambezia (Harare) 24 (2): 201-202, 1997.

Reviewed by Murray McCartney in Gallery; the art magazine from Gallery Delta (Harare) no. 10: 22, December 1996. qN1.G168 AFA. OCLC 33161032.


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Kuhn, Joy. Myth and magic: the art of the Shona of Zimbabwe. Cape Town: Don Nelson, 1978. 112pp. illus. (pt. color). NB1096.6.R5K83X AFA. OCLC 5661113.

Joy Kuhn's perspective on Zimbabwe stone sculptors and their mentors, Frank McEwen, Ned Patterson, and Tom Blomefield, is a highly personalized one; her narrative is downright chatty. But beneath all the first-person singular, one can glean some insights into these early pre-independence years of the movement, when Harare was still Salisbury, Zimbabwe was Rhodesia and "terrorists" were abroad in the land. Annoying, however, is the total absence of captions to identify the photographs; no names, no places; no dates; nothing, except a note that most are from the private collection of Tom Blomefield and so, presumably illustrate Tengenenge sculptures.


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Legacies of stone: Zimbabwe past and present. Volume 2 / curated and edited by Geert G. Bourgois, assisted by Els De Palmenaer; foreword by George P. Kahari. Tervuren: Royal Museum for Central Africa, 1997. illus. (pt. color), map, bibliog. (pp. 190-194). N7396.6.R5L44 1997 volume 2 AFA. OCLC 38742939.

A major exhibition on Zimbabwe was held at the Musée royal de l'Afrique centrale in 1997, half of which was devoted to modern art. Volume 2 contains nine essays which cover stone sculpture, mission art, painting, "outsider art," tourist art, and art education. This panoramic view of the contemporary art scene in Zimbabwe is intended not as a "who's who," but as a "what's what." Originally it was planned to include only stone sculpture, but the organizers were persuaded that that would do a disservice to artists of Zimbabwe as well as to visitors to the exhibition. Two essays on the stone sculpture lead off, followed by a "scientific interlude" by geologist Georges Stoops. His analysis of the rocks used by Zimbabwe's stone sculptors shows that the names of stone referred to in the literature do not correspond to reality. The most commonly used stones, chlorite, sericite, serpentinite and steatite, are all relatively soft and easy to carve with simple tools but are sufficiently tough to guarantee firmness. The early mission-based art schools, Cyrene and Serima, provide the substance of an important historical chapter in the history of modern art in Zimbabwe. The well-illustrated catalog portion (volume 2, pp. 141-184) mirrors the sequence of essays showing examples of all types of art. Not every work in the exhibition is illustrated, however.

Contents: Paul Wade, Contemporary art in Zimbabwe; – Jonathan Zilberg, The Western reception of a modern African art: the case of Zimbabwean stone sculpture; – Geert Gabriël Bourgois, Twentieth-century stone sculpture in Zimbabwe; – Georges Stoops, Petrography of the rocks used for Zimbabwean sculpture; – Elizabeth Randles, Mission art in Zimbabwe; – Timothy O. McLoughlin, Zimbabwean landscapes and cityscape: some examples from Zimbabwean painters and writers in English; – Pip Curling, Outsider art: subject and style; -- Geert Gabriël Bourgois, Tourist art: a blessing in disguise?,; – Neo Matome and Stephen Williams, Bridging cultural boundaries: a school of art and design for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

Reviewed by Gary van Wyk in African arts (Los Angeles) 32 (1): 17, 88-89, spring 1999.


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Leyten, Harrie M. Tengenenge: een beeldhouwersgemeenschap in Zimbabwe / Harry Leyten. Baarn, Netherlands: Kasteel Groeneveld, c1994. 120pp. illus. (pt. color), bibl. refs (page 119). NB1209.Z55L49 1994 AFA. OCLC 37343584.

This catalogue was published to accompany the exhibition "Tengenenge Old-Tengenenge New" at Kasteel Groeneveld, Baarn and in the Africa Museum, Berg en Dal, Netherlands, May 19-September 26, 1994. The "old and new" refer to three generations of stone sculptors who have worked at Tengenenge Sculpture Community in northern Zimbabwe from its establishment in 1966 to the present. Tom Blomefield, former tobacco farmer with an artistic bent, recounts how Tengenenge came into being following the Universal Declaration of Independence in Rhodesia in 1965 and the collapse of the tobacco business. The farm laborers became sculptors to eke out a livelihood. Chrispen Chakanyuka and Lemon Moses were the first. The war of the 1970s shut down Tengenenge but by 1980 it revived.

Harrie Leyton writes a thoughtful well informed essay on the history and growth of Tengenenge Sculpture Community through these three phases: 1966-1978, 1981-1987, and 1988 to the present. It is not generally realized that Tengenenge artists have come from Malawi, Angola and Mozambique as well as from Zimbabwe. The now legendary feud between Tom Blomefield and Frank McEwen set Tengenenge on an independent course to make its own name apart from the art establishment in Harare, which was dominated by McEwen. With commercial success came the questions of authenticity, repetition, innovation, and quality. Zimbabwe stone sculpture has both succeeded and failed on these points, and Tengenenge Sculpture Community is no exception.

The sculptures in the present exhibition are lent by the Chupungu Sculpture Park in Msasa, Harare. Photographs and biodate are included for the sculptors.

 

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McEwen, Frank. "Return to origins: new directions for African art," African arts (Los Angeles) 1 (2): 18-25, 88, winter 1968. illus.

To McEwen the artists associated with his Workshop School in Harare (then Salisbruy) are the only truly authentic modern artists in Africa. Unlike the sappy, uninspired, homogenzied work coming out of the third-rate art schools in Africa, the Zimbabwe art arises "from the bowels of Africa." Nurtured and protected, "a dormant genius has revived." McEwen is unabashed in his defense of the role of the National Gallery in promoting, housing, and sponsoring artists of talent. What is interesting in this early manifestation of Zimbabwean talent is the number of painters -- works by Thomas Mukarobgwe, Charles Fernando, and Joseph Ndandarika are illustrated here. That part of the Zimbabwe art movement seems to have died out in favor of the stone carving. The sculptors Bernard Manyandure, Boira Mteki, Barakinya, Lemon Moses, Joram Mariga, and Kumberai Mapanda are also illustrated in this article.


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Mawdsley, Joceline. Zimbabwe stone sculpture: the second generation : Dominic Benhura, Arthur Fata, Jonathan Gutsa, Tapfuma Gutsa, Kakoma Kweli, Wonder Luke, Colleen Madamombe, Fabian Madamombe, Eddie Masaya, Anderson Mukomberanwa, Alice Musarara, Joseph Muzondo, Agnes Nyanhongo, Gedion Nyanhongo, Brighton Sango, Norbert Shamuyarira, Staycot Tahwa / [designed and written by Joceline Mawdsley]. Harare, Zimbabwe: Chapungu Sculpture Park, 1994. [48]pp. illus. (pt. color), bibliog. (page 48). Notes: "A touring exhibition, launch venue, 1994, Atkinson Gallery, CRMA Fine Arts Centre, Millfield School Street, Somerset, England." Includes artists' biographies. NB1209.Z55M46 1994 AFA. OCLC 34126628.

Thirty-five years after the beginning of the Zimbabwe stone sculpture movement, one can speak of the emergence of a second generation of sculptors. Most emerged as artists from the late 1970s. With the coming of independence in 1980 and with the support and encouragement of the first generation of sculptors, these newer (mainly younger) sculptors have flourished. The second generation, according the Mawdsley, are pushing the boundaries of Zimbabwe stone sculpture in innovative and important ways, such as combining stone with wood and other materials. The forms, too, are changing, and there is a move away from the overall highly polished stone surfaces.


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Mor, Ferdinand. Shona sculpture / photographs by David Hartung; preface by Robert Mugabe; translated from the Italian by Belinda McKay. Harare: Jongwe, 1987. 160pp. illus. (color), map, bibliog. NB1096.6.R5M82 1987 AFA. OCLC 18537957.

Mor, a former Italian ambassador to Zimbabwe, has encapsulated the Shona sculptural tradition for nonspecialists in what he calls "a text and an invitation." An informed layperson, he wrote this non-scholarly but thoughtful and sincere essay, obviously, as a labor of love. Although Mor uses the designation "Shona" sculpture, now generally discarded as misleadingly narrow, the list of artists (pp. 152-158) mentions several who are of Yao, Chewa and other non-Shona origins. Mor's focus, however, is the "Harare school," and he interviewed a number of Harare-based artists. He discusses origins and developments -- Frank McEwen, Vukutu and Tengenenge communities -- characteristics and tendencies, even the stone itself as a medium of sculpture. Singling out John Takawira, Henry Munyaradzi and Nicholas Mukomberanwa as the three luminaries of the tradition, he also briefly discusses several others. One hundred sculptures are illustrated in color. Extensive bibliography, including newspaper articles, and list of exhibitions of Zimbabwe stone sculpture are appended.


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Noy, Ilse. The art of the Weya women. Harare: Baobab Books, 1992. 184pp. illus. (pt. color). [distributed: African Book Collective, Oxford]. N7396.6.R5N94 1992 AFA. OCLC 29293467.

This attractively produced book, with many color photographs, is a collaboration between rural Zimbabwean women and a German artist and art teacher, Ilse Noy. Noy originally taught Zimbabwean women in the Weya Communal Area sewing and painting, to help them supplement their subsistence farming earnings. Through their art, the women revealed aspects of their lives and traditions. They talk about their work in the captions with the color photographs of the best of their artwork. In the accompanying text, the women talk about their worlds of marriage and children, sexuality and death, spirits and ancestors, hopes and worries. The book is at once a book about the art of the women, and a glimpse into the fabric of the artists' lives.

Reviewed by Janet L. Stanley in African book publishing record (Oxford) 20 (3): 181, 1994; by Victoria Scott in African studies review (Atlanta) 38 (1): 168-169, April 1995.


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Pearce, Carole. "The myth of `Shona sculpture,'" Zambezia; the journal of the University of Zambia (Harare) 20 (2): 85-107, 1993. table, notes, bibl. refs. Abstract, page 85. H1.Z35X AFA.

Zimbabwe stone sculpture was so delimited and channeled by Frank McEwen and subsequently by other promoters that it was inevitable that the sculpture has become homogenized, commercial and formulaic. Its "authenticity" is the modernist vision imposed by McEwen, whose insistence on shielding the artists -- rural, largely uneducated men -- from pernicious outside influences has in fact stunted their growth as artists. "Shona sculpture" has remained remarkably consistent over the years in theme and content -- conservative, rural, idealized, detached from realities of life in Zimbabwe. Working the stone is conceptually easier than formulating an idea in a two-dimensional painting. McEwen preferred stone as the medium best able to express this "authentic" African creativity. The market demands and taste for Zimbabwe stone sculpture have perpetuated these formulaic and conventional artistic solutions.


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Ponter, Anthony and Laura Ponter. Spirits in stone: the new face of African art. Sebastopol, CA: Ukama Press, 1992. 202pp. illus. (color), bibliog. NB1096.6.R5P814 1992 AFA. OCLC 26610101.

Lavishly produced, Spirits in stone is a cross between a glossy coffee-table book, a slick sales catalog from an upscale department store, and a save-the-planet environment magazine. Art history this is not. One should place this book at the opposite pole from serious art history. Generic sculptures -- the owl symbolizes this, the lion symbolizes that -- are offered up for potential buyers, and a remote, exotic setting is evoked to complete the picture, with requisite wild animals and rainbow over Victoria Falls. Reader beware. Enjoy the pictures, which are suitably impressive and all in color, but skip the text, which is patronizing and preoccupied with making the reader feel good about Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe stone sculpture rather than understanding what it is all about.


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Spirit in stone: Zimbabwe Shona sculpture: the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, June 1-August 4, 1991 . [Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Natural History, 1991]. 24pp. illus., bibl. refs. qNB1096.6.R5S75 1991 AFA. OCLC 24169497.

For this American exhibition, Roy Cook selected nine Zimbabwe sculptors whose work represents for him the most outstanding and most seasoned of that country's stone sculpture. In so doing, he hoped to spark the interest of the American public (and other museums) in this art form. That these sculptures were shown in a natural history museum instead of an art museum raised a few eyebrows. The larger dilemma for Cook and others, who appreciate Zimbabwe stone sculpture as a truly fine art, is its rapid commercialization and consequent dilution by inferior imitations. Art critics here and in Zimbabwe have failed so far to draw the line: most viewers genuinely cannot see the difference between the good, the bad and the mediocre. Perhaps we should rely on Cook's judgment. His nine are: Edronce Rukodzi, Henry Munyaradzi, Joseph Ndandarika, John Takawira, Moses Masaya, Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Sylvester Mubayi, Norbert Shamuyarira, and Richard Mteki. Frank McEwen, the instigator of this artistic phenomenon, contributes an essay to this catalog entitled "Rebirth of an art."

Exhibition reviewed by Evelyn Castillo, "Spirit in stone: Shona sculpture," Real deal (Cleveland, OH) 1 (2): 5-7, June 21, 1991.


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Stanislaus, Grace. "Frozen spirit: Zimbabwean stone sculpture," Sculpture (Washington, DC) 11 (1): 44-47, January-February 1992. illus., bibl. refs. VF -- Artists -- Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe stone sculpture has been praised as "authentic tribal art," marketed as "spirits in stone," decried as "airport art." That it has been threatened by commercialism almost from the very beginning in the late 1950s is not in dispute. In fact, those who cry loudest are the art dealers.

Stanislaus singles out three sculptors, whom she feels rise above the angry debates and whose work speaks eloquently for itself. The three are Nicholas Mukomberanwa and Henry Munyaradzi of the first generation of Zimbabwe's sculptors, and Tapfuma Gutsa, a younger, more experimental sculptor.

Star sheds light on African 'Stonehenge'
By Richard Stenger
CNN
Thursday, December 5, 2002 Posted: 3:01 PM EST (2001 GMT)

(CNN) -- Mysterious ruins in Zimbabwe, nearly brushed this week by the shadow of a total solar eclipse, once served as an astronomical observatory to track eclipses, solstices and an elusive exploding star, a South African scientist said.

The Great Enclosure in the archaeological site of Great Zimbabwe, a crumbling ring of stone walls and platforms about 250 meters in circumference, was thought to have been a palace complex for regional rulers some 800 years ago.

But Richard Wade of the Nkwe Ridge Observatory thinks that the enclosure was used in a similar capacity as the much older Stonehenge in Great Britain.

The arrangement of the walls, the complicated symbols on stone monoliths and the position of a tall tower suggest that medieval Zimbabweans used the complex to track the moon, sun, planets and stars for centuries.

"The importance of Great Zimbabwe is that it was the capital of the only known sub-Saharan African Empire that lasted almost 1,000 years. Everyone in southern Africa somehow relates to this nucleus cultural complex," Wade said.

Several of the stone monoliths, for example, line up with certain bright stars in the constellation Orion as they rise on the morning of the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice.

Boosting an ancient legend
Another contains markings that coincide with orbital patterns of Earth and Venus, which could be used to forecast eclipses, Wade said.

In his most controversial position, Wade suggests that a tower at the complex, whose purpose has baffled historians, was probably built to observe an exploding star in roughly 1300 AD.

"This large conical tower in the great enclosure stands directly in line with the rising supernova remnant when seen from the observation platform and court area of the time," Wade wrote in a paper to be submitted to the journals Science and Scientific American.

"They requested that I send the work on completion," he said. "I have been peer reviewed now for almost four years and only recently have I received a nod from the South African science community."

Modern telescope observations indicate that a supernova lit up the sky at approximately the same time. Historic records make no mention of it, an omission that does not surprise Wade since the dying star appeared over the Southern Hemisphere, which at the time had virtually no literate cultures.

But oral legends in the region lend credence to the supernova idea, Wade said. The Sena people of Zimbabwe hold that their ancestors migrated from the north by following an unusually bright star in the southern skies.

 

 

     
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