Tag Archives: tengenenge sculpture community

Sculptors from Zimbabwe (part 2)

9 Mei

Using the owl as symbol

Preface

Jonathan Zilberg PhD attended me on the book Myth and Magic, The Art of the Shona of Zimbabwe, written by Joy Kuhn and published in 1978. It is one of the first publications of books about the Zimbabwean Stone Sculpture, starting in the 60s and 70s [Note 1].

Myth and Magic. The Art of the Shona of Zimbabwe

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I searched on the Internet for this book and I found a used copy of this book for an acceptable price (Fig 1), from someone in Scotland. When I received it, I discovered that it looks and smells like an old book. Despite this I am very delighted with the book.
Joy Kuhn is not a professional art scientist, but she has had spent a substantial part of her life in Central and South Africa. The book contains a lot of photos of sculptors in the late 60s and early 70s. Unfortunately, in the book, she mentioned the names of the sculptors in the manner they were used at that time, i.e. only by first name. In the case of ‘Henry’ it is not a problem. She meant the late Henry Munyaradzi. But the reference of the artist’s name ‘Ndale’ arises some questions. By looking it up in the lexicon Sculptors from Zimbabwe by Ben Joosten (2001) I found out that the sculpture belongs to the late Ndale Wile, a Malawian, who sculpted at the Tengenenge Sculptor Community.

Likewise, the sculptor’s name ‘Matere’ or ‘Matera’ may not be known instantly. This name belongs to the sculptor Bernard Matemera. Even Bernard Matera used that name in this period, unless it is a misspelling from Joy Kuhn. She also didn’t mention the year in which the sculptures were produced.

In spite of these minor objections the book is useful, because she interviewed a lot of sculptors from the first generation. In this way we get an insight in the beliefs, motivation and thoughts of the sculptors during the sculpting.

 

Fig. 1 Cover of the book Myth and Magic

Using owls as a symbol in sculpting

Joy Kuhn talked to the, meanwhile, deceased Bernard Takawira. He explained to her how animals can influence sculptors in their work.
Bernard Takawira was a member of the Nyatate sculptor group around Joram Mariga. His brothers John, Patrick and Lazarus were also sculptors.  Bernard Takawira was born in 1948 and belongs to the Shona people. He was one of the twenty-four children in his family.
He followed the primary and the secondary school and received a degree in agriculture at the Mlezu Agricultural College.
He saw his older brother John carving in stone.  In 1968 he started sculpting himself. Frank McEwen, Director of the Rhodes National Gallery, saw his pieces of art and convinced him that he would be a good sculptor (Joosten 2001, 134)

Bernard Takawira told Joy Kuhn:

Owls, though, the Shona fear them. They are always associated with witchcraft. For we believe that women, in particular, can be transformed into animals –   then creep into your house  and sit on you, so you wake up feeling sick. First the owl – then, the hyena, then the ant-eater, then, the bat. If the mongoose crosses your path  you know that where you are going things are not right. It is better, then, to go home. And if you see a chameleon digging, it is bad; you will get sad news, particularly about death…..(Kuhn 1978, 14) [Note 2].

Ephraim Chiruka

The sculptor on the cover of the book Myth and Magic, is Ephraim Chiruka (see Fig. 1). He called his sculpture a Huge Owl [Note 3]. He was a nephew of Chimbewere, the Chief whose spirit guards the sculpture village of Tengenenge (Kuhn 1978, cover).

Ephraim Chiruka says about the stone

She – this woman – is changing into an owl. Your mind goes like that if you are carving stones…(Kuhn 1978, 49)

Ephraim Chiruka provided his sculpture with women’s breasts. The breasts of a witch, he said.

He was born in 1940 in the Guruve area and belongs to the Shona people.  He started sculpting in 1966 in the Tengenenge Sculptor Community. His favourite theme was horses, because they reminded him of old people who use horses for transport to move their goods from one place to another (Joosten 2001, 165/166).

The  Huge Owl was not the only owl which Ephraim Chiruka sculpted. He carved a bewitched owl as well which he called Owl Woman (Fig. 2).

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Fig. 2 Owl Woman, sculpted in 1969 by Ephraim Chiruka (Joosten 2001, 167)

And he sculpted also a normal owl (Fig. 3)

scannen0005-cs2Fig. 3 Owl, sculpted by Ephraim Chiruka, year of production unknown (Kuhn 1978, 58).


Henry Munyaradzi

There are also owls carved without signs of the spirits of witchcraft, like the owl of Henry Munyaradzi. This is rather an elegant sculpture of an owl. Unfortunately, the year of production is not known.
Henry Munyaradzi was born in 1931 in the Guruve district. He belonged to the Shona people. His father left the family when Henry was a young child, so Henry got no formal education.
He raised up in the family of his nephew Edward Chiwawa. As a youth Henry herded cattle. In 1968/1969 he started sculpting in Tengenenge. He is auto didactic and became successful immediately.
In 1975, due to the Liberation War, it became too dangerous in Tengenenge. Henry moved with his family to Chitungwiza.
In 1985 he bought a farm in Ruwa, east of Harare, where he died in 1998 (Joosten 2001, 283).

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Fig. 4 Owl sculpted by Henry Munyaradzi (Kuhn 1978, 59)

Edward Chiwawa

Edward Chiwawa was born in 1935 in the Guruve district. He belongs to the Shona people. He is a nephew of Henry Munyaradzi. He saw his nephew during the act of sculpting. He started sculpting himself in Guruve in 1970. He was taught by Wilson Chikawa. He brought his sculptures to Tengenenge to sell them.
In 1975, due to the Liberation War, Tengenenge was closed and in Guruve it became too dangerous, so Edward moved with his family to Harare, to join Tom Blomefield. After the war ended Edward did not return to Guruve. He now lives in Chitungwiza and is still sculpting (Joosten 2001, 175/176).
In my first  paper Sculptors from Zimbabwe (part 1), I mentioned that I met Edward Chiwawa last year in the sculpture garden Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdeberg in the Netherlands. Around 1988 he sculpted an owl (Fig. 5). This owl has been exposed in the collection of the Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal, the Netherlands.

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Fig. 5 Owl, sculpted by Edward Chiwawa, c 1988, (Joosten 2001, 177)

Dofe Khoreya
Another owl is the owl sculpted by the sculptress Dofe Khoreya (Fig. 6).This is an owl in modern art, totally abstract. The owl is recognizable by the beak. The year of production is about 1968. The sculpture belongs to the collection of the Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal , the Netherlands.
I don’t know what the sculptress wants to express with the holes in her piece of art. My interpretation is that both the upper holes are wings and the lower holes are paws. Has someone got another idea of the meaning of these holes? A hiding place for spirits could also be a possibility.
Dofe Khoreya was born about 1939 in Malawi. She married Bauden Khoreya, also a successful sculptor. They have one son Harry, who is also a sculptor. Bauden and Dofe started in 1968 with sculpting in Tengenenge. Dofe was one of the few women, who sculpted. In that time sculptors thought that women could only help by polishing the sculptures men produced. The family lived in the Tengenenge Sculptor Community until 1976 (Joosten 2001, 212-215).

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Fig. 6 Owl, sculpted by Dofe Khoreya, c 1968, (Joosten 2001, 214)

Moveti Manzi

Moveti Manzi is a sculptor of the second generation. He was born on the first of January 1960 in Centenary. His father Josiah Manzi was also a successful sculptor. The parents of Josiah Manzi moved from Malawi  to Zimbabwe in 1918. His mother Jenet Manzi is a sculptress.
Josiah started sculpting in the Tengenenge Sculptor Community in 1966, Jenet started there in 1968.
Josiah sculpted print stones as well. So did Moveti Manzi when he was a boy. In 1997 three print stones were found in the mud in Tengenenge, two belonged to Josiah, and one to Moveti. The last one is saved in the Tengenenge Museum in Dodewaard, the Netherlands (Joosten 2001, 338).
From Moveti Manzi an owl is exhibited for selling in the sculptor garden Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdeberg, the Netherlands (Fig. 7).

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Fig. 7 Owl, sculpted by Moveti  Manzi, photo: Pierre Swillens

Epilogue

Jonathan Zilberg devoted in his dissertation, as mentioned in note 1, a chapter on “Spirits in Stones” referring to the belief in spirits of the Shona People. He cited Joy Kuhn’s book Myth and Magic, when she expressed, after interviews with the sculptors Sylvester Mubayi, Nicholas Mukomberanwa and Joseph Ndandarika, their belief  in spirits. They stipulated that they converted this belief in their stones (Zilberg 1996, 167 – 176).

Shona sculptors feared the spirits of animals, like the owl, the hyena, the ant-eater and the bat. Especially the spirits of the owls, who – according to them – practiced their witchcraft on women.

In Athens the Greece people endowed the owl with wisdom, the Shona in Zimbabwe endowed it with witchcraft.

Maastricht, march 16,  2015

Pierre Swillens

Notes

1. Jonathan Zilberg received his doctorate of Philosophy in Anthropology in 1996 in the Graduate College of the University  of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with the dissertation Zimbabwean Stone Sculpture. The Invention of a Shona Tradition. Before and afterwards he wrote many publications about this subject. He is one of the few scientists who made their publications fully accessible for everyone.

2. Olga Sicilia found this aspect so important that she cites this passage out of Kun’s book in her dissertation There is No Such Thing As a Spirit in the Stone. , Misrepresentation of Zimbabwean Stone (Sicilia 2009, 96).

3. The titles given to sculptures are often arbitrary, are often made up by dealers or writers. The artists themselves can change the names  of the titles depending on whatever they think that the buyer or photographer wants to hear (communication Zilberg).

 Cited References

Joosten, Ben
2001 Sculptors from Zimbabwe, the first generation, Galerie de Strang, Dodewaard, the Netherlands
Kuhn, Joy
1978 Myth and Magic, The Art of the Shona of Zimbabwe, Don Nelson, Cape Town
Sicilia, Olga
2009 There is No Such Thing As a Spirit in the Stone, Misrepresentation of Zimbabwean Stone (diss.)
Zilberg, Jonathan
1996 Zimbabwean Stone Sculpture, The Invention of a Shona Tradition (diss.)

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Sculptors from Zimbabwe (part 1)

5 Mei

My first experience with the study of the Zimbabwean stone sculpture during the period 1950 – 1980

Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdeberg

In the neighbourhood of Maastricht in the Netherlands, the city where I live, there is  a sculpture garden, called Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdeberg. The owner of this sculpture garden is Mrs. José de Goede, a former auctioneer and assessor of art and antiques. She has a long time experience in exhibiting and selling Zimbabwean stones in galleries. Almost every year she travels to Zimbabwe in order to buy sculptures directly from the sculptors. She knows the sculptor and their families very well and she invites them, like the (late) Bernard Matemera and Edward Chiwawa, to give workshops in her sculpture garden.

The sculpture garden is in the vicinity of a marl quarry. The quarry forms the outline. The sculptures are partly arranged on banks near the border of the quarry and partly in a natural garden (Fig. 1a + 1b).

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Fig. 1a Group of sculptures near the border of the quarry

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Fig. 1b Group of sculptures in a natural garden

 José de Goede is very committed with the sculptors in Zimbabwe. She founded the Bernard Matemera Foundation. With help of this foundation she is building schools for children in Zimbabwe and supports the families of sculptors, who run out of income by occasion.
As I mentioned before, she invites well-known sculptors from Zimbabwe in her sculpture garden to give workshops. Last year she welcomed Edward Chiwawa with his son McCloud and another junior sculptor to teach in her sculpture garden.

Book ‘Sculptors from Zimbabwe’ by the late Ben Joosten

This book is published in 2001 by Galerie de Strang, Dodewaard, the Netherlands, and holds a lexicon of all the sculptors of the first generation.

The lexicon is divided into five sections, with sculptors from the:

– Cyrene Mission, headed by Canon Edward Paterson;
– Serima Mission, headed by Father John Groeber;
– Workshop School in Harare, headed by Frank McEwen;
– Nyanga Group, headed by Joram Mariga;
– Tengenenge Sculptor Community, headed by Tom Blomefield.

 Ben Joosten was a very conscientious man, he got his information on the stands. As far as he managed to research, he mentioned from each sculptor his bibliography , his exhibitions and the collections, as well as where his of her sculptures are saved. So  if you have to look up some information about a sculptor from the first generation , you will find this in the book. Will someone ever write such a book about sculptors of the second generation?

Mrs. José de Goede donated me, as Ambassador of the Beeldentuin Maastricht-Heerdeberg the book of Ben Joosten and from that moment on I started my study of the development of the Zimbabwean stone sculpture in the period 1950 – 1980.
Studying the book of Ben Joosten I questioned myself: “Are there any sculptures of sculptors from the first generation in the Beeeldentuin Maastricht-Heerdebeerg?”

Bernard Matemera

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 First of all a sculpture from the late Bernard Matemera. Mrs. José de Goede told me, that Bernard Matemera sculpted twice in her backyard in the Netherlands before his death in 2002. I could not believe that the famous Bernard Matemera, one of the best real Shona sculptors, would sculpt in a backyard in Holland. Mrs. José de Goede assured me that Bernard Matemera was a gentle man, who always kept his word.

Unfortunately he died at a young age (56 years). He was such a remarkable man, that  I will spent more honour to him at a later moment in my stories.
The sculpture from Bernard Matemera in the sculpture garden Beeldentuin Maastricht-Heerdeberg is a self-portrait and for a long time it has been the property of Mrs. José de Goede (Fig. 2)

Fig. 2 Self-portrait, sculpted by Bernard Matemera

If you look at the sculptures from the sculptors of the first generation, then you will see that most of them had a gimmick or a trademark. So didUnnamed image (62) Bernard Matemera. When he sculpted a person, he always sculpted three fingers on each hand and three toes on each foot. That story is not unlikely. I found on the internet that slightly north of Zimbabwe there is an isolated tribe, called the Doma People. Most of them have only two toes, the outer toes. The toes are developed in a V-shape and people called them ostrich-feet. The two toes are caused by a genetic defect.
Bernard Matemera must have been aware  of that and sculpted all his human figures with three fingers and three toes. That is his trademark (Fig. 3).

Fig.3 Family, sculpted by Bernard Matemera (1987)

Fanizani Akuda

Another sculptor from the first generation I  found in the sculpture garden Beeldentuin Maastricht-Heerdeberg was Fanizani Akuda. When Mrs. José de Goede went to Zimbabwe she met Fanizani Akuda and his wife (Fig. 4).

m_Unnamed image (49)Fig. 4 Mrs. José de Goede (right) meets Fanizani Akuda and his wife

Fanizani Akuda always kept his best stones for her, when she met him for buying stones. Unfortunately Fanizani Akuda died on February 5, in 2011.
Fanizane Akuda was born in 1932 in Zambia. In 1946 he went to Zimbabwe for a job. In 1967 he arrived in the Tengenenge Sculptor Community and asked Tom Blomefield for a job. Tom Blomefield gave him the job of digging stones for the sculptors. Some day he asked Fanizani Akuda to try sculpting, but the latter refused because he was afraid that by sculpting small stone splinters would get in his eyes.
After a short time Fanizani Akuda changed his mind and when Tom Blomefield repeated  his offer, he accepted the tools for sculpting. In a short ime he became a successful sculptor (Joosten, 2001:153).

Fanizani Akuda also had a trademark. He had a lot of humour and when he sculpted a person he always sculpted closed eyes. He wanted to illustrate prevention that the person might get  stone splinters in his eyes (fig. 5).

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Fig. 5 Small stones , sculpted by Fanizani Akuda and exhibited in the sculpture garden Beeldentuin Maastricht-Heerdeberg

When Fanizani Akuda grew older he sculpted only small sculptures,  like Whistlers. The mouths of this whistlers were made with a bit and he sculpted blown cheeks (see Fig. 5). I wrote that he had a lot of humour. I read a story he told someone. When you strike with your finger over the mouth of the whistler, then you hear a sound. I tried this with the small whistler in Fig. 5 , but I did not hear a sound. Perhaps I did not strike in the right way.

Edward Chiwawa

Another sculptor from whom you will find sculptures in the sculpture garden Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdeberg is Edward Chiwawa. He was  born in Guruve (Zimbabwe) in 1935 and he belongs to the Shona people. He started sculpting in Guruve. He brought his sculptures to  a stand in the Tengenenge Sculptor Community. There was also his four years older nephew Henry Munyaradzi sculpting.  In 1979 the situation in Guruve was dangerous due to the War of Liberation. Edward Chiwawa moved with his family to Harare. He now lives  in Chitungwiza (Joosten, 2001: 175).

I had the opportunity to meet Edward Chiwawa in the sculpture  garden Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdeberg, where he sculpted and gave  workshops with his son McCloud (Fig. 6).

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Fig. 6  Edward Chiwawa daily sculpting in the sculpture garden Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdeberg

Mrs. José de Goede told me, that every morning at 9.00 am she heard Edward Chiwawa being busy with sculpting and he did not end until 8.00 pm.

Edward Chiwawa had also a trademark. He mostly sculpted  Moon heads, with  the same face. When he made a frame around the sculpture he called it a Sun head, always the same faces. He  also made a complete  ball with that face, and he called it Moon ball.

I bought two small sculptures made by Edward Chiwawa and he was so nice to add his signature under a stone . He was also willing to pose for a photo with me and my wife (Fig. 7)

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Fig. 7 Edward Chiwawa posing with me and my wife.

When I asked Edward Chiwawa  the titles of the stones we just had bought, I thought  he said Moonjets. When I told this to Mrs. José de Goede, she said “Edward doesn’t speak English very well, he means Moon heads”.

Below illustrations of the Sun- and Moon heads from Edward Chiwawa (Fig. 8a + 8b)

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Fig. 8a Edward Chiwawa showing a Moon head

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Fig. 8b Rising Sun Head, sculpted by Edward Chiwawa

Epilogue

So I will end my first impression of the start of my study of the Zimbabwean Stone Sculpture in the period 1950 – 1980. My paperwork will not be scientific, because I am not a scientist. But it will be an expression of my true believe in the development of African Art, especially stone sculpting, in a short period in Zimbabwe.

I will try to find out the  circumstances when this development took place and who were the participants taking  part in this. At the end I hope to get an answer about the question: “Was the Shona stone sculpting in Zimbabwe authentic and what was their value for the Art World”.

As I am prejudiced in favor of a positive answer on this question I will sometimes be  contrary to the common opinions of the scientists about this matter. I hope they do not mind it.

As Ambassador of the sculpture gallery Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdenerg I shall not hesitate to stipulate their role in the  development of the Zimbabwean stone sculpture.

Maastricht, February 16, 2015

Pierre Swillens

REFERENCE
Joosten, Ben
2001 Sculptors from Zimbabwe, the first generation, Galerie de Strang,

Intermezzo

27 Aug

Stones from Zimbabwe

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Dofe (Agnes) Khoreya (1939) is een van de weinige beeldhouwsters in steen, die werkzaam waren in de Tengenenge Sculpture Community van Tom Blomefield.  De beeldhouwers verwachtten dat de vrouwen alleen werkzaamheden bij het polijsten van de beelden konden verrichten. Het kappen van beelden was er niet bij. Voor de rest moesten ze voor de kinderen zorgen.
Dofe Khoreya is getrouwd met de beeldhouwer Bauden Khoreya en haar zoon Harry, uit een eerder huwelijk, is ook beeldhouwer. Zij had geen opleiding in beeldhouwen genoten, maar ontwikkelde snel een eigen stijl.

In 1968 beelhouwde zij onderstaand beeld. De vraag is nu: “Wat stelt het beeld voor?” Hebben jullie een idee, laat het even weten. Meerdere inzendingen (pogingen) zijn toegestaan. De oplossing is niet zo moeilijk.

Professionals, die het antwoord reeds weten, wordt gevraagd om hier even mee te wachten. Het gaat erom, hoe een onbevangen toeschouwer tegen het beeld aankijkt en wat hij of zij daarin ziet. Mogelijk kunnen zij straks wel meehelpen met het interpreteren van de betekenis van de uitsparingen (meaning of the holes) in het beeld.

(bron ‘Sculptors from Zimbabwe’, geschreven door Ben Joosten)

Pierre Swillens

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Sculptors from Zimbabwe (deel 2)

4 Aug

the first generation

Eerbetoon aan Bernard Matemera

Inleiding

In mijn vorige blog bracht ik naar voren, dat in de Beeldentuin Maastrich-Heerdeberg  een beeld staat, gebeeldhouwd door Bernard Matemera en dat als een zelfportret moest worden beschouwd. In deze blog wil ik iets meer vertellen over Bernard Matemera.
Als bron gebruik ik hiervoor het reeds eerder genoemde boek ‘Sculptors from Zimbabwe’, geschreven door Ben Joosten.

Tom Blomefield

blomefield-5Voor dat ik over Bernard Matemera begin, moet ik eerst iemand anders noemen en dat is Tom Blomefield. Deze man heeft ontzettend veel betekend voor de kunstenaars van Zimbabwe en het beeldhouwen in steen.
Tom Blomefield is in 1926 geboren in Johannesburg (Zuid-Afrika). In 1948 kwam hij naar Zimbabwe en een jaar later trouwde hij met een dochter uit een rijke familie van tabaksplanters.
Met behulp van zijn schoonfamilie kocht hij een flinke lap grond en verbouwde hierop een tabaksplantage.
Hij noemde zijn gebied Tengenenge naar een riviertje, dat naast zijn grondgebied stroomde. Tengengenge heeft meer betekenissen, maar een ervan is “Beginning of the beginning”.
Tengenenge zou door de bemoeienissen van Tom Blomefield een wereldwijd begrip worden binnen de beeldhouwkunst van Zimbabwe.

Tom Blomefield, zoon van een kunstenares, was niet begeesterd door het werk op de tabaksplantage en toen het slechter ging met de plantage, zocht hij naar een andere bron van inkomsten. Hij wist dat op zijn grondstuk serpentijnsteen voorhanden was, dat zich makkelijk leende om te worden bewerkt. Hij ontmoette in 1966 een jonge Zimbabwaanse kunstenaar Christen Chakanyuka, die elders een opleiding had genoten tot beeldhouwer in steen. Met hem als leermeester begon Tom Blomefield met het beeldhouwen in steen.

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Omdat Blomefield zag, dat er geld mee te verdienen was, moedigde hij zijn arbeiders aan om te bekijken of ze ook aanleg hadden voor beeldhouwen in steen. Een ervan was Bernard Matemera, voorman op zijn tabaksplantage. Bernard Matemera had aanleg en produceerde al snel beelden, die werden verkocht.
Het succes trok meer mensen aan en Tom Blomefield stichtte de Tengenenge Sculpture Community, Pvt Ltd. Dit was het begin van een kunstenaarsgemeenschap, waarin de kunstenaars gedijden en in hun levensonderhoud konden voorzien. Dit alles volgens het zakelijk inzicht en het enthousiasme van Tom Blomefield.

Bernard Matemera

Zoals gezegd een van die kunstenaars van het eerste uur was Bernard Matemera, geboren in 1946 in Guruve matemera-8a(Zimbabwe). Hij genoot vier jaar lagere school. Hij moest in zijn vrije tijd het vee bewaken. Tijdens die werkzaamheden beoefende hij houtsnijkunst en klei-modellering.
In 1963 kwam hij naar Tengenenge om daar tewerk worden gesteld als bestuurder van een tractor op de tabaksplantages. Hij werkte ook voor Tom Blomefield
In 1966 vroeg Tom Blomefield hem of hij tot de kunstenaars gemeenschap Tengenenge wilde toetreden. Bernard Matemera had talent. Hij maakte een beeldje van een schildpad en daarna een van een giraffe. Dit beeldje werd verkocht door de National Gallery en Bernard Matemera ontving hiervoor 14 Pond.
Bernard Matemera ontwikkelde een eigen stijl. Hij behoorde tot de Shona cultuur en sprak een Shona dialect  Opvallend aan zijn beelden is, dat de figuren vaak drie vingers aan een hand en twee tenen aan een voet hadden. Zie o.a. het beeldje dat op de foto aan zijn voeten staat. In zijn stam heerste de antropologische mythe, dat een dergelijk volk in Zambezi bestaan had of nog bestond. Nog heden ten dage leeft in West-Zambezi, dicht bij de Zambezirivie, een geïsoleerde stam de Doma, waaarvan de leden door een genetische mutatie twee tenen aan hun voeten hebben. De drie middelste tenen ontbreken.

Zie ook het volgend beeld Family.

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matemera-10aBernard Matemera gaf toch graag zijn beelden een mythologische betekenis. Zo ook het beeld ‘the man who eat his totem’. In zijn stam kreeg ieder persoon een totem toegewezen. Dat kon zijn door de vader of door een medicijnman. De totem was meestal een dier. Nu was het een wet, dat de persoon zijn  totem niet mocht doden of opeten. Het laatste heeft hetzelfde effect als het eerste.
Nu had volgens Bernard Matemera de man zijn totem (een wildzwijn) opgegeten en nu veranderde zijn hoofd
in een zwijnskop. Helaas ook die van zijn zoontje, want die had kennelijk meegegeten.
Bernard Matemera legt hiermede een  boodschap in zijn beeld. Hij of zij die de wet overtreedt, zal worden gestraft. En dan bedoelt hij niet de wet van de overheid, maar de wet van het volk.

(Deze drie foto’s zijn gescand uit het boek “Sculptors from Zimbabwe” aan de hand van Ben Joosten).

De boodschap dat men zijn totem niet mag doden herhaalt hij in zijn beeld ‘the man changing into a rhino’. Iemand had zijn totem een rinoceros gedood en kreeg een hoorn op zijn hoofd.

Dat het niet zo eenvoudig is om aan zo’n beeld te werken, blijkt uit de volgende foto. Het beeld waar Bernard Matemera aan werkt, noemde hij ‘Rhino Man’. Het is een van zijn eerste werken.

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Ik wil nog een beeld behandelen, omdat Bernard Matemera dat zo apart vond. Het beeld op de linkerfoto stelt voor ‘Sitting Doma Man’. Over het Doma volk heb ik reeds eerder iets verteld. Het beeld mocht van hem niet worden verkocht en na zijn dood moest het naast zijn graf worden geplaatst. Hij stierf vrij jong en of hij zijn  dood voorvoelde, weet ik niet. Het sierde zijn graf een tiental jaren. Daarna  werd het door de Bernard Matemera Estate  geschonken aan de Rhino Head Gallery.

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Epiloog

Bernard Matemera was een autodidact. De talenten voor het beeldhouwen in steen had hij vanaf de geboorte.
Bernard Matemera was een Shona en doordrongen van de Shona cultuur.
Bernard Matemera was een van de eersten, aangeduid als the first generation’.
Bernard Matemera was ‘the godfather’ van de Tengenenge kunstenaarsgemeenschap.
Bernard Matemera was een neo-expressionist. Zijn beelden moesten iets voorstellen.
Bernard Matemera zocht in zijn beelden naar het mystieke.
Bernard Matemera zocht in zijn beelden de grenzen op tussen het menselijke en het dierlijke.
Bernard Matemera  was een fenomeen in het beeldhouwen in steen. Hij ging helaas te vroeg heen.

Bernard Matemera werd niet altijd begrepen, maar de erkenning van zijn kunstenaarschap was wereldwijd.
Bernard Matemera was de Picasso onder de beeldhouwers in steen.

Pierre Swillens

Fotogalerij