“ Art given to as a gift has no value, or it is valueless because it cannot be compared to something else than to its own.”
Israel Chikumbirike and his twin brother Canaan (deceased) were born October 7, 1954, in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). Israel started sculpting at a very early age. It began as a hobby to keep his creative cells engaged. The playtime fun soon grew into a more serious pursuit. He started with wood carving and then progressed to softer stone. The young artist finally settled on Verdite, a challenging choice for sculptors. Verdite is called the “unforgiving stone” since it may contain corundum, a hard mineral that can make the stone hard to sculpt.
By the early ’70s, Israel worked with art dealers in Zimbabwe and South Africa under contract. After experiencing demand for Israel’s work, many of these dealers started imposing demands for custom creations based on their ability to market certain types of pieces. Being a true artist, Israel realized those demands would limit his artistic vision. So he decided to decline those requests and continue pursuing art which was his true spiritual journey. He soon began a life of artistic seclusion and continues to live that way even today. Israel’s peers and others who have witnessed his pieces, call him ‘The Michelangelo of Africa.’
This exceptional artist has no formal art training. He is legally blind in one eye and starts all his pieces by visiting local quarries numerous times until he sees what he calls an “old spirit” wanting to be released from the stone it resides in. Because of the prevalent plagiarism among local artists, Israel decided to be reclusive instead of making an extensive resume. He feels his gift speaks for itself. Like most fine artists, Israel is reluctant to part with his pieces. However successful his career has been, he still feels like he’s parting with his children when he parts with his work.
The artist loves immortalizing moments, glances, or even the feelings of his subjects through his work and focuses on both the subject’s external perfection and the subject’s soul and spiritual manifestation. He achieved further growth as he moved from understanding the material and its potential to sculpt intangible ideas, concepts and emotions.
Inspired by the concepts he visualized, he sometimes travels long distances to unknown quarries to listen to the stones waiting to be transformed. There were times when he could see a whole sculpture in a natural rock formation.
For Robin, working in the desert is a retreat where sculptures begin to take shape and express themselves. He is excited by the tension between raw materials and final products as he creates.
Capturing the movement of the human figure in its infinite variants is Robin’s favorite challenge. Studying the masters such as Donatello, Bernini, and Rodin taught him a lot about the human body’s various forms. What distinguishes Robin Kutinyu’s work from others is his ability to select the right medium and material to bring his visualizations and ideas to life.