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Born 1940 Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Buhera District in the Manica Province, Zimbabwe
Born in 1976 Lawrence Mukomberanwa


Nicholas was the son of his father's second wife, who died when he was two years old. His father’s first wife raised him. He attended primary school in Zishavane, moving to a rural farm school where he worked to support himself. His diligence led to his acceptance at St Benedict's Mission where his natural artistic talent was recognized and he was offered place at Serina Mission under the enlightened guidance of Father Groeber. Nicholas is quoted as saying "at Serina the seed of art was sown in my heart".

Tutored by Father Groeber, Nicholas learnt to carve wood depicting biblical narratives such as a mother's love for her children.

The need to earn a living led him to join the B.S.A.P. (British South African Police) in which he served 15 years. In 1965 Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front Party, having come into power announced the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (with annexed Constitution) in Rhodesia. Opposition to the 'Smith Regime' was vociferous: neighbouring African states branded.Southern Rhodesia a 'Police State'. On the16th December 1966 the United Nations passed Security Council Resolution 232, imposing selective mandatory sanctions against Southern Rhodesia, followed in May 1968 by Security Council Resolution 253 imposing comprehensive mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia in the spheres of trade, financial transactions, communications and travel.

These years could not have been easy years for Nicholas. "I think I was a good policeman in my relations with the public. I tried to teach people to trust each other and reconcile themselves" he is quoted as saying.
He continued to carve in wood. He persevered in the Police Force until 1976 when a fortunate turn of events offered another opportunity. Nicholas met Frank McEwen in the Rhodes Gallery in Salisbury (Harare).

Frank McEwen was made the first Director of Rhodes National Gallery opened in 1955 in Zimbabwe. An artist and critic, he was well versed in the mainstream of modern art.

Given his interests and background, it was natural that Frank McEwen would research the local artwork in Zimbabwe. He initiated a Workshop School at Rhodes Gallery. Nicholas Mukomberanwa was one of the earliest members of the school. McEwen believed in allowing the latent talents of the artist to emerge, with little formal guidance or training. Clearly though, he also imparted his enthusiasm for the European trends and particularly the work of Brancusi, Lipshitz and Moore. The work of these artists influenced the development that took place in the workshop.

This approach encouraged introspection in Nicholas. He constantly reviews his own work. His initial success in selling work on the International art market has not stayed his formal development. His early pieces are contained. The gentle, curved body of stone provides a surface upon which facial features and limbs are raised in high relief. This approach yields to a far more dynamic mode in the early 70's. Limbs and features are exaggerated, articulated in bold, angular designs, expressed by confident incursions into and protrusions from the hard, black Penhalonga Serpentine. With increase in skill we see expansion in scale. Carved directly in stone, the essential spirit is released from the stone with extraordinary power.

The Euro-centric view of these 'art works' is a far cry from the ritualistic 'working art' of the ancestral Zimbabweans. Dialogue has been established with the European and American viewer. Patronage is actively sought and collectors are enthusiastic. Today Nicholas Mukomberanwa's sculpture is represented in significant collections worldwide. As an established artist he has been able to mentor his five sons in the art of sculpture: Anderson, Malachai, Tendai, Laurence and Taguma. He has also offered hospitality to young enthusiasts who visit from abroad. Today there are three generations of stone sculptors in Zimbabwe.
Whereas in the past these artists were seen as one cultural group and their work referred to as Shona Sculpture, currently there is a movement away from the implication of tribalism that name carries. Zimbabwean Sculpture claims a strong identity and a more inclusive description.

Nicholas constantly sets himself the challenge to seek a greater simplicity in his work. In the process he reaches out to every man, communicating across cultural, religious and social boundaries. Today he lives on his farm Ruwa just outside Harare.

In 1989 Nicholas Mukomberanwa received the award of distinction in the Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition at the National Gallery in Zimbabwe.

His work is represented in, amongst others, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Field Museum, Chicago, Museum of mankind (British Museum) London, National Gallery of Botswana, Chapungu Village Sculpture Garden and permanent collections inside and outside Zimbabwe.

Solo Exhibitions:
African Influence Gallery, Boston Massachusetts.
The Gallery Shona Sculpture, Chapungu Village, Harare
Gallery 10, London
PG Gallery, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Commonwealth Centre London.
Goodman Gallery Johannesburg.

Title: My Vison
Size: 49 cm high
Media: Stone
Price: R 30 000




Laurence was encouraged by his father to qualify for a career beside that of becoming a stone sculptor. As a pilot he flies tourists over the Victoria Falls!

Laurence owes much to his father's example. Having been exposed to a stone carving all his life, the medium comes very naturally to him. However, even with the strong paternal influence, Laurence has found his on style of carving which differs from his father's. He carves masks and heads adorned with emblematic relief motifs in African idiom. These he finishes with great attention to the surface, polishing his work meticulously. His work echoes references to the futurist -Boccioni and the cubist- Picasso. He also uses flat intersecting planes in contrast with fluid contours. Laurence's subject matter deals with contrasts and opposites. He is concerned with the disparity of power between poverty and wealth.

Participated in the group exhibition “Encompass” at the Cape Gallery

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