Cobalt | 34" x 47" | 350 lbs
The Phoenix is one of the most pervasive mythological animals to exist, and one with powerful symbolism. It holds cultural identities in Egyptian, Greek, Chinese, Russian, and even native American cultures, in not dissimilar forms.
The Phoenix symbolizes renewal and resurrection. Lovemore uses the Phoenix to symbolize not only Zimbabwe's newly won majority self-rule in the 80's, but also, more recently, Zimbabwe's economic revitalization since hitting inflation rates of 6.5 sextillion percent (this is not a typo) in mid-November 2008, which left the stone sculpture movement at a virtual stand-still. The Phoenix represents hope and a bright future reborn.
This sculpture of the magnificent mythological fire-bird has a fiery attitude representative of it's nature, as well as remarkable coloration resembling the embers and the ashes from which it resurrects.
LONG HAIR MODEL
White Opal | 19" x 44" | 300 lbs
This beauty's elegance and “chiseled” complexion juxtaposed with soft, curved facial features demands to be seen and admired. She is expressing a distinctly seductive pose by exposing her strong and elongated neck, closing her soft eyes, and pouting her defined lips. Even the stone used for this piece, white opal, a soft rock, signifies delicacy. Her facial features are Shona, but her long, shoulder-length, flowing hair is inspired from western beauty influences.
Witness's hair contours and ridges are distinct in their deep grooves and curved flow following the natural contours of the stone, in line with their beliefs of nature. Shona sculptors have a harmonious, symbiotic relationship with nature. Listening to the stone, they will never go against the will of the natural spirits residing within the stone. These spirits dictate exactly how the stone is to be carved, and it is the artists job to execute the will of the spirit.
The spirit residing within this piece exudes a primal beauty which finally was allowed free to be seen, and the world is grateful. She will light up any room with her beauty, and is sure to get the admiration she demands.
FAT MOMMAS DANCING
Springstone | 69" x 16" | 500 lbs
The Fat Momma collection of Esau Karuru pays homage to the role of women in Shona culture. While they fill much the same role that women play in most cultures, there is a lively and spiritual component engrained in these finely-sculpted women.
Daily life revolves around spirituality, and the women are the center of Shona spiritual life. The women preside over the daily activities of the community, which also includes preparing for ceremonies, brewing the ceremonial beer, leading prayers, to name a few. Because of their prominent roles, they are highly respected within the communities.
Another vital component, and perhaps the most fun, is the traditional dances that all partake in, in different combinations. This includes, as depicted by the piece above, a dance of the mamas (and not the papas)
It is difficult not to feel elated, and excited when viewing this piece. The jovial nature of these mamas is infectious, and is sure to liven any atmosphere, with equal parts sass and pizzazz.
Springstone | 16" x 52" | 300 lbs
The Shona Queen, a monarch among the Shona, exudes a strong, powerful woman demanding respect and loyalty, while simultaneously masking a gentle side desiring both love and devotion from her lovers and her people.
Witness Bonjisi's masterful embodiment of the Queen clearly displays the infinite facets of her character. The front face of the Queen displays a resounding image of strength, fortitude, and passion, but with a slight sense of humility; the back face elicits imagery of her desire for peacefulness, compassion, and love. Both dimensions are balanced in equal part owing to the Shona's reverence to the traits, and Witness highlights these facets spectacularly.
The Queen reverberates the traits we expect from ourselves, and from our leaders, whether it means being leaders of our own lives, to being the leader of our family, a spiritual leader, a business leader, or a political leader. Her presence reminds us of our duties, our passions, and our loves, and more importantly, the importance of a balanced life.
Springstone | 14" x 60" | 300 lbs
Mike Munyaradzi, one of the most celebrated Shona sculptors, delivers this truly remarkable and unique piece in the simple and elegant fashion of his father, Henry Munyaradzi, known as the godfather of the modern Shona stone sculpture movement.
Mike pays homage to both his father, and his ancestral spirits, both of whom are instrumental in his artistic facility. Familial piety, and the spiritual world are cornerstones to not only Mike's virtues, but also to the Shona.
This piece's simplicity and elegance, combined with its' solid feel and striking features ellicits feelings of protection and guidance, for which the guardian spirit seeks only respect and admiration.
SPIRIT IN PRAYER
Springstone | 25" x 60" | 375 lbs
Spirituality and prayer are central to Shona culture, and here even the spirits pray. Nyukusvora captures a primal peacefulness in the figure, who is encapsulated in a strong, yet flowing form. The juxtaposition between the smooth figure, and it's rough exterior form are complimentary in the way that they accentuate each other. The piece could not exist without both halves.
This piece also contains striking colorations due to the oxidation of elements occuring naturally within the stone. For example, the orange coloration is rust. Of particular note, with respect to the coloring, is the natural ombré, from a dark, deep red at the bottom to gray near the top. Nyukusvora surely knew oxidation would occur, but could not possibly have predicted how beautifully it would eventually appear, even years after he carved it.
MY LIFE HISTORY
Springstone | 24" x 99" | 450 lbs
This special piece has an immense symbolic meaning, and Lovemore uses his own life as inspiration.
This piece represents the ebb and flow of life, and how sudden and drastically life can change, even so far as to completely change direction.
The coiled spiral at the bottom is a scroll, which unravels over time, represents life, and the unknown future. The future, like the contents of the scroll, will reveal itself only in time as the scroll unravels.
Each ripple of the unravelling scroll corresponds to a past event, with each wave representing a change in life's course, good and bad, big and small.
Life ebbs and flows, according to its own design, and those that embrace this inevitability will find pleasure in life's journey.
ELEGANT AND CONFIDENT
Springstone | 21" x 86" | 600 lbs
This long haired beauty demands to be seen by everyone, and she makes sure everyone is looking. Her finely “chiseled” complexion, and elegance of a seductive pose is Witness's ode to the Shona's reverence of women, their beauty, and their role in society. Moreover, this piece has a distinct feature of western culture's influence.
Long hair is not a natural feature of Shona culture. This is Witness's influence from western culture he picked up while travelling, and showcasing his pieces throughout Europe and the USA. The lines in the hair are signature Bonjisi style, which represents flow and elegance.
This woman's elegance represents the amalgamation of western and Shona influences, which Witness encapsulates in the form of a woman whose beauty is admired by both western and African audiences.
Springstone | 20" x 101" | 600 lbs
Shona spirituality is monotheistic. Their pantheon, even among the illiterate is referred to as “Mwari nevadzimu” directly translated as “God and ancestral spirits”. Instead of a pantheon of gods representing different aspects of life, the Shona have spirits and angels. The most relevent of these are those who influence their daily lives. These would be the spirits of the family's ancestors who died content, meaning they had offspring and were respected members of their society. These spirits now offer their spiritual guidance to the family.
The benevolent spirits bring guidance, protection, and wisdom to the family so long the Angel is lovingly respected. A respected Angel will protect and ensure a family's prosperity. Continued respect and prayer will ensure continued prosperity, but upset the spirit, and the family will feel the spirit's wrath. But, don't worry, as long as the Angel is allowed to watch over the family, and occasionally get a quick polish, it will be happy.
Springstone | 12" x 76" | 180 lbs
One of Witness's iconic sculptures, a stoic and elegant position featuring characterstics of both African and Western cultural influences. The shape and features of the bust are classic African, yet the styling and simplicity reminds us of a combination of both abstract and modernist art styles from Western influences.
This integration of modernism stems from Witness's exposure to Western art from his time abroad presenting at famous as well as local galleries around the world.
This 2-tonal stonework is in a well-known Witness style that includes a rough, modernist head, juxtaposed by a complimentary smooth, abstract face that balances the composition. The hair is also classic Witness style, with the elegant, flowing lines forming a sense of movement to compliment the smooth shape of the modernist face, while contrasting with the angular, abstract face. Witness's skill stems from his use of complimentary and contrasting shapes within the piece, much like a painter will use specific colors for similar effects.
Springstone | 20" x 86" | 700 lbs
Renowned Shona sculptor, Lovemore Bonjisi's unique and distinct style is on full display with this piece. From a single springstone boulder, Lovemore represents true love's unbreakable bond by using one of the hardest stones available.
The artistic style encapsulates an essential Shona style with distinct Western influences. The facial features are distinctly Shona, with the long hair, which is distinctly western. Lovemore brings these styles together in an abstract piece representing a universal truth: love.
The lines in the hair are a distinct style of Lovemores, and follow the natural flow of nature found within the stone. Shona sculptors take pride in their symbiosis with nature, never carving against the will of the stone, and always taking the flow of the stone into account as can be seen from the flow of the lines.
Springstone | 30" x 11' 7" | 1500 lbs
From a single boulder, dynamited out of the ground, and carried by 16 men from the quarry over a mile away, this intricate sculpture by renowned Shona stone artist, Lovemore Bonjisi, embodies a characteristic Shona feel from the heart of Zimbabwe, and Africa itself.
The Lover's Embrace portrays the important theme of family within Shona culture. While the entire extended family is important, this sculpture focuses on the bond between lovers and reminds us to value those who are special to us. The Shona place great value on revering great people in life and death, and Lovemore accurately depicts how we revere and love those closest to us, while they are still with us.
The choice of springstone, being one of Africa's hardest stones, and one of Lovemore's favorites to work with, is fitting, because he uses springstone here to represent the absolute and unbreakable bond of love and family. Both are central and absolute for the Shona people, and are themes that reverberate in all cultures world-wide.
SPIRITS IN LOVE
Springstone | 22" x 58" | 400 lbs
Similar to his Spirit in Prayer piece, Nyukusvora again depicts the anthropomorphic nature of the spirits. This piece contains two spirits entwined and held steadfast by the stone. The stone is springstone, one of Africa's hardest stones, which represents the fortitude of love to keep these two spirits together.
The style is very similar in that there are two smooth figures encapsulated by a rough exterior. The juxtaposition, again, creates an interesting dichotomy, which is further accentuated by an almost zebra print roughness along the bodies of the spirits. The visual affect is that there is a tranquility in the spirits in opposition to everything going on around them, much like the feeling we get when we are entwined with our lovers.
Love and tranquility very often coexist, which gives us courage to brave the harshness that sometimes is life.