Zimbabwe Tradition Makes a Mark on Contemporary Sculpture

The Zimbabwe Sculpture Movement, known internationally as “Shona sculpture,” was born in the late 1950s with the opening of the first National Gallery of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The inaugural director Frank McEwen established a workshop within the gallery to encourage the creation of indigenous art among the local community.  Before being exiled by the white authorities for the promotion of African art in 1973, McEwen mounted numerous exhibitions at venues such as the Rodin Museum in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  With his art contacts worldwide, it’s little surprise that his endeavor would spawn one of the most significant movements of art in all of Africa.

In 1973 the Shona sculpture movement was brought to a virtual halt due to a civil war and international sanctions against Zimbabwe. During this tumultuous time (lasting almost a decade) few artists sculpted and promotion was virtually non-existent.  However, after the country’s independence in April of 1980, the tradition was reborn.

Today, the Shona Sculpture Movement continues to thrive and evolve, with a new generation of innovative artists embracing this longstanding tradition and sharing with us their experience of contemporary Zimbabwean culture. With a new set of political and cultural influences, the second and third generation sculptors are driven by the social changes occurring as a result of their country’s independence.

Collen Nyanhongo, son of Claud Nyanhongo, a prominent artist among the first generation sculptors, is fast becoming one of the most notable Shona sculptors today. Beginning his career in 1996 after completing a degree in marketing he has won international acclaim, showcasing his work in numerous venues around the world, including France, Holland, England, Germany, South Africa and the United States.

He expresses himself eloquently in the traditional, yet evolving style of Shona stone sculpting while making it clear that his mark will be his own.  His work resonates with the emotions of human life while embodying the richness of African culture.  It speaks of their people and traditions, while at the same time communicating globally of the human condition at large.

Collen would like to invite you to experience the tradition of Shona Sculpture. Watch as he and his team take a project from extraction to an awe inspiring work or art!  

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Special thanks  to C. Stark Designs and Rest Assured


For more information about Collen Nyanhongo, other Shona artists, or commissioning a sculpture contact us at art@bonnerdavid.com

“Infinite Harmony” Shona Scultpure Show: October 22, 2009 6-9pm at Bonner David Galleries (Location and Hours)