"Dreaming" by Sylvester Mubayi
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Mubayi was born in 1942 in the Chiota Reserve near Marondera. After leaving school Sylvester worked as a tobacco grader and moved to Harare in 1966 to seek employment at the Chubuku Breweries. In 1967 he joined the Sculptors Community at Tengenenge. Later he was a founding member of the Vukutu Workshop School established be Frank McEwen who much later in 1987 said of Mubayi, “Certainly when I knew him he was by far the greatest sculptor there... I have tremendous admiration for him... some of his work is as great as the world.”
Sylvester lived and worked in Chitungwiza. His work is inspired by a world of spirit and supernatural forces often fusing people and the animal world. Skeletons inspired his early work. He has exhibited extensively since 1968 in many parts of the world and has work in major collections in Europe and North America.
Sylvester passed away in December of 2022. He was the last remaining first generation Shona artist.
Country of Origin:
- Hand carved in Zimbabwe
Dimensions (in inches):
- Depth: 6"
- Length: 25"
- Height: 6"
Type of Stone:
- Springstone comes from the Guruve mine in northern Zimbabwe. It is one of the hardest stones found in the country and has an elevated density allowing it to be polished to a bright shine. Springstone contains high deposits of iron which can sometimes be seen in a reddish-brown outer layer on the stone. The iron also makes it an incredibly hard stone to carve by hand.
- One of the most famous 1st generation carvers, John Takawira, was said to have coined the name 'springstone' when he tried to carve the stone and it was so dense and strong that the chisel sprung off the stone, hence the name 'springstone'.
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- This piece can be displayed inside or outside.
About Shona Sculpture:
Stone sculpture in Zimbabwe, dating from 1956 until today, is the best-known manifestation of African contemporary art. Northern Zimbabwe has uniquely large amounts of carvable stone. The stone was so important to the people that the name ‘Shona’ is derived from a word in 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 a hammer and chisel. Hemingway Gallery purchases this sculpture directly from the Shona artists in Zimbabwe and has imported the monumental stone artwork since the early 1980s. These fine modern sculptures are unparalleled in both carving skill and design. Hemingway holds long-standing relationships with artists like Bywell Sango, Sylvester Mubayi, Witness Bonjisi and many more.
Click the Shona Sculpture tab below for further information!
Our pricing correlates directly to the asking prices of artists in Zimbabwe and the costs of importing their artwork to the U.S.
Please email us at email@example.com or call 212-838-3650 with the SKU # for further information on this piece.
Hemingway Gallery places significant emphasis on Shona Sculpture from Zimbabwe, which was the first gallery to introduce monumental sizes of the stone sculptures to the United States. Shona sculpture serves as a means of celebrating traditional African motifs while simultaneously being quintessentially modern art, borne out of a 20th-century renaissance. The abundance of carvable stone in Zimbabwe sets it apart as the only African nation with large deposits suitable for sculpting. The significance of stone to the people of Zimbabwe is demonstrated by the fact that the term 'Zimbabwe' translates to 'house of stone' in the Shona native language. In ancient times, unique soapstone carvings of birds adorned the 11th-century city of Great Zimbabwe.
Shona sculpture lacks any formal technical artistic training. Instead, sculpting skills are transmitted through families, and the hard, large stones are shaped using just a hammer and chisel, without any modern power tools being employed. Several beliefs and cultures in Shona society inspire the themes conveyed through stone sculptures. These encompass mythology, spiritual ideology, and rituals. The Shona believe that the rock contains images that are revealed to them in their dreams by the spirits of their ancestors. When these images are brought to life through sculpture, the spirits are liberated and become a part of the shared human consciousness, soaring freely. 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."
Shona sculptors crafted a unique style that possessed a modern flair reminiscent of Picasso, Brancusi, and Modigliani while still being reflective of traditional Zimbabwean mythology, folklore, rituals, and beliefs. Shona sculpture's significance as one of the most crucial advancements in 20th-century African artwork was firmly established by a significant exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1969.
Since the early 1980s, Hemingway Gallery has been importing monumental stone artworks from Shona artists in Zimbabwe. The gallery ethically procures this sculpture directly from the source. Works from first generation Shona sculptors such as Henry Munyaradzi, Sylvestor Mubayi, Fanizani Akuda, Josiah Manzi, Bernard Takawira, Nicholas Mukomberanwa, and Bernard Matemera, are much sought after by art collectors worldwide. Despite the passing of the first generation of artists, the gallery collection still holds a limited selection of their pieces. Hemingway had a close relationship with these first Shona carvers and continues the relationship with the subsequent generations of artists. Not only are these modern sculptures of exceptional carving skill and design, but they are also affordable and available in sizes suitable for both indoor and outdoor display.
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