Zimbabwe Shona Sculpture

Albert Mamvura

Knowlton Collection
Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania USA

Friendly Spirit
22" high
10.5" wide
$ 1,200
Green Opalstone
Albert Mamvura was born in the Buhera District of Zimbabwe in 1954 and grew up in a rural environment in what was known as Ziyambe African Purchase Area.

His introduction to sculpting started at the St. Henry's School and at Makumbi Mission. On leaving school he qualified as a carpenter and worked for several years with various construction companies.

His introduction to sculpting in stone came from his cousin Nicholas Mukomberanwa. While staying with Mr. Mukomberanwa at weekends during 1975 and 1976, was at that time was already well established as one of Zimbabwe's foremost artistic talents. Mambura began to sculpt, learning from his cousin the basic techniques of the modern Shona movement.

He began to sculpt on his own in 1977 and the following year had been accepted by the National Gallery for it's annual exhibition. Since then he has rapidly established himself as a significant artist in his own right.

Until 1984 he was known as Albert Mukomberanwa, but he reverted to the name Mamvura to avoid confusion with his cousin. Such confusion was more likely during the earlier years of his artistic career than now. At that time his work, stylistically, was much influenced by his cousin, but it is no longer the case. His style and treatment of subject matter is now very much his own style although at times a discernible stylistic link with his mentor can still be seen.

Frequently his sculptures incorporate figures closely entwined in a protective embrace. This sculptural reference to the close knit family relationship in Shona society is common to a number of Zimbabwean artists, but none more so than Mavura. Such works are readily identifiable by his portrayal of the human form. It is the juxtaposition of his figures rather than their form which varies. That this is so reflects his artistic concern with his portrayals of Shona attitudes, customs and beliefs rather than with the portrayal of a distinctive individual personality.

He seeks inspiration by studying both people and Nature. With people, it is their attitudes toward each other, their interpersonal and social relationships which are of paramount importance.

Not only does he frequently portray figures in a close embrace but also involved in such traditional Shona ceremonies such as brewing beer, praying for rain or in some other way being involved with ancestral spirits.

In nature, it is the shapes that he finds which have an impact on his work. For example, a form that he finds particularly appealing.

last update
3 April 2016 ~ 12:59EST
Knowlton Collection
4961 River Rd., Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania, 18950, USA

Mailing address:
763 Almshouse Rd, Doylestown, PA 18901

Thomas Gamache


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