Zimbabwean artists to showcase centuries-old Shona stone sculpting art in Dubai

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Mestaria Gallery in Alserkal Avenue will be showcasing a collection of traditional Zimbabwean sculptures by contemporary artists in their new exhibition The Shona Collective, opening on January 27.

The Shona art style is a centuries-old stone sculpting tradition of the Shona tribe — which used only a hammer and chisel to carve stone. These skills and techniques are passed down within families from one generation to the next.

The exhibition will showcase the work of nine Zimbabwean artists from their atelier, The Shona Collective. They are David White, Bywell Sango, Gregory Mutasa, Tawanda Makore, Royal Katiyo, Leonard Sezhendo, Lovemore Bonjisi and Witness Bonjisi along with Dominic Benhura, who is considered among the greatest Shona sculptors of his generation.

“I am excited to show the world how the third generation of Shona sculptors have transformed into producing more modern works with new types of stones that can only be found in Zimbabwe,” The Shona Collective founder, Demitris Petrides, tells The National.

While Shona artists demonstrate a striking range of styles and aesthetics, the sculptors all work with the same materials — the hardest varieties of serpentine gemstones such as springstone, fruit serpentine and leopard rock.

These varieties of serpentine are dense and have extremely fine grains and uniform structure, which make them an ideal raw material for sculpting.

Shona art sculptors use skills and techniques that have been passed down through generations. Pictured is Intertwine by Tawanda Makore. Photo: Mestaria Gallery

Due to the natural weathering processes of these gemstones, their colours are often vibrant, ranging from yellow and green to brown and black. Along with the special and age-old techniques employed by the Shona sculptors, the pieces themselves are unique, one-off works of art carved from the earth.

“I am a strong believer that every single piece will find its predestined owner,” Petrides added.

The Shona Collective artists will be presenting their work in Dubai, as aligned with their greater mission in which to engage with a global audience and share the centuries-old stone sculpting art of the Shona tribe.

The Shona Collective exhibition will be running from January 27 until February 17 at Mestaria Gallery in Alserkal Avenue