Provenance: Sandra Kerno Collection
Additional Information: Signed by Albert Mamvura (1945-1995), a First Generation Zimbabwe stone sculptor who worked in Chitungwiza.
Until the middle of the 20th century, with the notable exception of the famous birds carved in steatite, there was very little sculpture of any kind in Zimbabwe. It was not until the 1950s that the stone sculpture movement was born, a movement which would change the face of contemporary African art.
In 1957, Frank McEwen, an Englishman, and a teacher, collector and exhibitor of modern art, was appointed Director of the National Gallery of Rhodesia, in Salisbury (now Harare). Soon after taking the position, McEwen began to make connections with talented local artists whom he supported and mentored. He encouraged them to find creative inspiration in their traditional religions and spirituality.
In addition to what was taking place at the National Gallery, a workshop was created in Vukutu in Nyanga district, headed by Joram Mariga, an agricultural engineer turned sculptor. Mariga was the uncle of John and Bernard Takawira, and he taught both his nephews and many other young men who would become the famous First Generation of Zimbabwe Stone culptors.
Albert Nathan Mamvura was born in 1954, in the Buhera district of Zimbabwe. After leaving school, Mamvura worked as a carpenter in Chitungwiza before striking out to begin carving on his own, in 1977. A year later, Mamvura’s works were accepted by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe for its annual exhibition. Since then Mamvura has been counted among the most talented of all Shona sculptors. His works focus on the human figure, with a tendency toward abstraction.
"Listening Man"is made from green serpentine stone, Mamvura's favorite medium. As can be seen in this piece, Mamvura's works are usually figurative and depict human forms in serene or contemplative attitude, reflecting the Shona spirituality that Mamvura believed in.
Recommended Reading: Joosten, Ben SCULPTORS FROM ZIMBABWE, THE FIRST GENERATION, Galerie de Strang, Lexicon, 2001; Celia Winter-Irving, STONE SCULPTURE IN ZIMBABWE. CONTEXT CONTENT & FORM, Roblaw Publishers, Harare, Zimbabwe, 1995
Franck MCEwen, THE AFRICAN WORKSHOP SCHOOL, Rhodesia, n.d
Olivier Sultan, LIFE IN STONE IN ZIMBABWEAN SCULPTURE. BIRTH OF A CONTEMPORARY ART FORM. Second edition, Harare, 1999
I have examined this piece and agree with the description.
Niangi Batulukisi, PhD.