SHONA SCULPTURE FROM ZIMBABWE
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ABOUT SHONA SCULPTURE
Shona Sculpture from Zimbabwe is one of the main focuses of Hemingway Gallery, which was the first gallery to import the monumental stone sculpture to the United States. Brian Gaisford grew up with the Shona artists in Zimbabwe before 1975. Zimbabwe is the only African country with large amounts of carvable stone. The stone was so important to the people of Zimbabwe that the word 'Shona' is derived from a word from their native language that means 'house of stone.' There is no technical artistic training in Shona sculpture. Sculpting skills are passed down through families and the large and hard stones are carved with only hammer and chisel and no modern power tools are used. Themes articulated in stone stem from several beliefs and cultures in the everyday Shona society. These include mythology, rituals, and spiritual ideology. In the words of Bernard Matemera, one of the founders of this movement: "The spirits are everywhere in the air, in the rocks. A rock is like a fruit - like an orange or a banana. You don't eat them without peeling them first. It needs to be opened to be eaten. I open the rocks. The fruit is inside."
Works from first generation Shona sculptors such as Henry Munyaradzi, Sylvestor Mubayi, Josiah Manzi, Bernard Takawira, Nicholas Mukomberanwa, and Bernard Matemera, are much sought after by art collectors worldwide. Hemingway Gallery has had a close relationship with these artists and continues the relationship with the last surviving first generation sculptures (Josiah Manzi and Sylvester Mubayi) and the subsequent generations of artists. Hemingway African Gallery was the first gallery to import Shona sculpture into the United States. It continues as the largest wholesale importer of Zimbabwean art including monumental sculptures that other importers shy away from.