"Guiding Spirit" by Henry Munyaradzi
Africa and Beyond is proud to present a beautiful sculpture
by world renowned artist, the late Henry Munyaradzi, entitled
"Family Under a Tree," carved out of the rare Zimbabwean granite
nicknamed "Springstone" (for its strength as the tools "spring" off of it!).
Title: "Family Under a Tree"
Material: Serpentine, (Rare Zimbabwean Granite)
Artist: Famed 1st Generation Shona Sculptor, the late Henry Munyaradzi
Country: Zimbabwe (Southern Africa)
Provenance: Ex. Museum Deaccession
Dimensions: 15 3/4" height x 9 1/2" width x 4 1/8" depth
Henry is one of the most famous, and certainly the most praised sculptor
ever from Zimbabwe, and we have an extensive biography on him going
back as far as 1968 to his untimely death in 1998. Since then the value of
his pieces has continued to climb, and will continue to do so. It is never
too late to invest in an artist of his stature. This is a very rare piece by a
highly sought after artist. Sculpted circa 1987.
BIOGRAPHY OF ARTIST:
Henry Munyaradzi is known as a "Master Sculptor" of Africa and his native country, Zimbabwe,
where he is considered the "Father of Shona Sculpture." His works are highly collectible and
Known simply as "Henry," Henry Munyaradzi is the poet laureate of Zimbabwe Sculpture. He was
born in Guruve, the North of Zimbabwe, in 1931 and began sculpting after meeting Tom Blomefield
at Tengenenge is 1967. The essence of Henry's work came from the shape of the stone itself, from
which Henry drew inspiration and imagination. His work is "characterized by intersecting, flat
rectangular shapes, circular forms, cones, spheres, and cylinders, all harmoniously related" (Stone
Sculpture from Zimbabwe, Hayden Galleries). Henry achieved remarkable success internationally with
one man and group exhibitions all over the world. Entirely self-taught his skill has amazed artists and
art lovers the world over. Henry died in 1998 at the age of 67. His death was a great loss to the
Zimbabwean Shona Sculpture community.
Henry Munyaradzi's background, like his life and work, is as deceptively simple as it is remarkable. His
father, a spirit medium, left the family when Henry was very young and from this point on, Henry's
childhood and upbringing was typical of rural Zimbabwe at the time - herding cattle and hunting game
with dogs, spears and bows and arrows. He did not go to school. and during his life was still learning the
English language. He eventually worked in various ways with the natural land and industry around him -
first as a village blacksmith and later as a carpenter and tobacco grader.
However, this similarity with the lives of his peers ended in 1967 when, out of work, he stumbled across the
Tengenege Sculptors' Community set up by Tom Blomefield. Ignoring the large powerful work by Bernard
Matemera and Josiah Manzi, he began to sculpt, preferring to work alone and from the beginning with
individual strength and powerfully original imagery. As a result he quickly established himself as the leading
artist of the community, but left to work alone in 1975.
His work began to be included in exhibitions early on in his career - his first exhibition at the National Gallery
of Zimbabwe, for example, was in 1968. Since that time he has been exhibited both in group and individual
shows worldwide and the striking linear images in his sculpture make it some of the most internationally
popular of the Zimbabwean artists. Following a very successful one-man exhibition in London in 1984, he was
able to purchase his own farm, gaining inspiration from the rural surroundings.
The strength of his work lies in the purity of form - technique and imagery are honed down to pinpoint the
essence of his subject in the simplest of terms. The confident lines and clear-cut geometric incisions have
often been compared to Klee (an artist of whom Munyaradzi would never have heard) - but these symbols
and his love for a finished product of great beauty and calm have been present in his work from the very
beginning. His subject matter is taken from the natural world around him and only the intimate knowledge
of this world can produce such minimal, but precise, expression. Being entirely self-taught his work blends
the simplicity of the primitive with stylised sophistication. He greatly respected the stone he used and was
often inspired by the original shape. It is an intense relationship with the material as he worked spontaneously,
neither drawing nor measuring. Despite its apparent simplicity the work cannot be reproduced, and he
constantly worked to express in new ways his themes of contemplation and spirit in his relationship the natural
world and with his personal Apostolic faith. Contemplation of stories in the Bible provided Munyaradzi with the
powerful imagery of supplication, friendship, family ties and the security of paternal protection.
Henry Munyaradzi has participated in almost all the major group exhibitions as well as eight one-man shows
in London, Los Angeles, Berlin, Heidelberg and Harare. His work is found in the Permanent Collections of the
National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Chapungu Sculpture Park and in Museums and private collections throughout