Zimbabwe Shona Sculpture

Nicholas Mukomberanwa

Knowlton Collection
Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania USA

14" high (approx.)
32" wide (approx.)
Nicholas Mukomberanwa
is considered one
of the greatest
of Shona sculptors.
$ 25,000
Carved from Serpentine stone
Nicholas Mukomberanwa was born in 1940 and is the most famous and respected "first generation" sculptors in the contemporary Shona sculpture movement.

Mukomberanwa was born in the Buhera District and spent his childhood in a rural environment. He was interested in art from an early age, being introduced to the craft of woodcarving while a student at the Sernia Mission School. Here, too, he encountered a blend of traditional Christian iconography and tribal African pieces.

Mukomberanwa moved to Harare while he was in his twenties, taking a job as a police officer and setting aside his artistic training. In 1962 he met Frank McEwen, then director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe who encouraged him to take up art again. McEwen provided materials and training in a workshop in the Gallery basement and soon Mukomberanwa was sculpting in his free time.

Eventually, in a risky move, he decided to leave his career with the police to become a sculptor full time. The gambit paid off, and by the 1970's his work was being shown in important shows in Paris, New York City, and London. Mukomberanwa continued to hone his skills over the following decade, developing one of the most distinctive personal styles found in his
generation of Zimbabwean stone sculptors.

In the 1990's Mukomberanwa's reputation was further enhanced by several one man shows in London and New York. Later in his career, he slowed his production of art to enjoy cattle ranching and farming on an extensive spread which he owned. He produced less, creating more personal sculptures and slowing down the pace of his life considerably.

Mukomberanwa's works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Museum of Man in London as well as the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. He died suddenly in 2002.

Several of Mukomberanws's children became sculptors including his sons Anderson, Lawrence, Taguma and his daughters Netsai and Ennica. He was
also the uncle and teacher of Nesbert Mukomberanwa and mentor to African-American sculptor M. Scott Johnson.

Mukomberanwa's sculptures frequently depicted forms taken from nature, such as animals and birds; most were highly polished although in a few cases he would contrast smooth sections with areas of great roughness. He worked primarily in stone using local materials such as serpentine. Stylistically, his works were similar in nature to the sculptures of the Shona people, from whom he derived some of his stylistic ideas.

last update
2 April 2016 ~ 13:24 EST
Knowlton Collection
4961 River Rd., Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania, 18950, USA

Mailing address:
763 Almshouse Rd, Doylestown, PA 18901

Thomas Gamache


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