Picasso cannot compete with the master sculptors of the Zimbabwean fine art movement. The works of Robin Kutinyu and Israel Chikumbirike, the current artists featured at MWEYA Gallery, are masters of their craft whose creations are deeply spiritual with traditional ties and a message that transcends all human boundaries.
Often referred to as the “African Michelangelo,” Israel Chikumbirike is considered one of the best living sculptors in Zimbabwe and among the most renowned Shona sculptors. He started sculpting at an early age as a hobby, but soon “playtime” became a more serious endeavor. Initially, he began molding his talent with wood but soon progressed to softer stone before settling on Verdite—a hard and unforgiving stone that contains corundum, a mineral that can sometimes cause projects to be abandoned.
Israel never received formal art training and is legally blind in one eye. All of his pieces begin with him visiting local quarries until he sees what he describes as “an old spirit” wanting to be freed from the stone it resides in.
The sculptures that Chikumbirike makes are typically hard to find for sale because he refuses to accept any custom creation proposals that would limit his artistic vision. Instead, he concentrates on his “spiritual journey” and life of artistic seclusion in the Waterfalls suburb of Harare.
Despite his pieces’ diminutive size, they bring life to the spaces in which they are displayed. Surfaces and textures are exquisitely finished; every detail is carefully considered and nurtured to enhance the whole of the sculpture.
Second-generation Zimbabwean Robin Kutinyu learned the craft from his father—an acclaimed sculptor and oil painter. Having been shaped by his passion for wildlife, he began carving alongside his father at age five and was able to instill his curiosity and deep understanding of form and beauty into his carved horses and humanoid figures. His current work involves the use of bronze, welded metal, stone, as well as oil paint. His work consists primarily of humanoids, African animals, and endangered species.
The raw spirit of nature is revealed in Kutinyu’s art through the elemental structure he is shaping to reveal the souls of both the human and animal forms he creates. It is in Kantinyu’s work that we are reminded that the world is a fragile, beautiful, and fertile place and that we were created from the spirits who came before us, and are inextricably bound to the divine and sentient world of nature.
Jeff Morris, owner of MWEYA, has been curating Zimbabwean contemporary sculpture since 1996. His passion for the unique, eye for talent, and commitment to pushing boundaries are why he consistently features artists who are pushing the envelope of what is possible.
Having interacted with Kutinyu and Chikumbirike over the past 20+ years, Jeff has a deep understanding of what each individual is trying to achieve with their artistic endeavors, and the message they hope their work will deliver going forward.
If you are interested in experiencing the rich art of contemporary Zimbabwean sculptures, interested in acquiring a specific work, or would like to discuss a commission, please contact the MWEYA Gallery on email@example.com, or calling (732) 962-3415.