Nicholas was born in the Buhera District of Zimbabwe in 1940. He attended school at the St. Benedicts Mission in the Makoni district. In 1958 he went to the Serima Mission where Father Groeber was building the Serima Church. Here he started carving in wood, working on religious themes. He carved three angelic figures in wood which can still be seen in the church. In 1961 he left Serima to become a policeman in Harare. When he needed to escape the strain of police work he would ride his motorcycle into the bush where he could work in seclusion for hours. Through the mediation of McEwen it was possible for him, still working as a policeman, to sculpt occasionally at Vukutu in Nyanga. He left the police force in 1976 to devote all his time to sculpting.

Nicholas went on to become the most recognized and awarded sculptor of the Shona Sculpture movement. His skills evolved to emphasize two unique methods of carving: one style expertly employed lines and angles in the stone to create highly refined and modern works of art and, the second style where he carved into the stone subjects with exaggerated human features, such as faces, hands, arms, etc. to create a contemporary look that redefined the direction of the art form. Both of these styles have been widely adopted by many of his contemporaries and they now form the basis for much of the quality work now being done in Zimbabwe. There is no doubt that the influence of Nicholas Mukomberanwa on this art form will continue for a long time to come.

Nicholas saw himself first as a farmer and second as an artist. He was constantly experimenting with new and different types of corn in attempt to maximize his crop in a country plagued with draught. In the later years of his life and aware of his reputation and his position as an artistic spokesperson for the Shona people, Nicholas became strained by his constant search for creativity. Despite his tremendous success and his wide popularity he became burdened by his responsibilities and yearned for the peace and tranquility he felt he needed to be able to reach the next plateau in his art form. This search haunted him right up until his death in 2002.

Solo Exhibitions

 

1976      Goodman Gallery  – Johannesburg, South Africa

1979      Standard Bank Gallery – Harare, Zimbabwe

1983      Commonwealth Institute – London

1983      National Gallery of Zimbabwe

1983      Gallery 10  London

1986      Gallery Delta  Harare, Zimbabwe

1987      African Influence Gallery  Boston, Mass  USA

1989      The Gallery Shona Sculpture  Harare, Zimbabwe

1990      Australia

1992      Germany

1994      Norway

1995      Retrospective Exhibition (1962 – 1995) National Gallery of Zimbabwe

1995      Reece Galleries  New York  USA

 

Group Exhibitions

 

1963      6th Annual Exhibition  National Gallery Zimbabwe

1964      International Art Exhibition  Lusaka, Zambia

1964      7th Annual Exhibition  National Gallery Zimbabwe

1965      Commonwealth Arts Festival  London

1965      8th Annual Exhibition  National Gallery Zimbabwe

1968      Rhodesian Sculpture  Johannesburg, South Africa

1969      Contemporary African Arts  Camden Centre, London

1970      Sculpture Contemporained De Vukutu – Musee d’art Monderne De la Ville De Paris

1971      Sculpture Contemporaines Des Shona D’Afrique Musee Rodin – Paris

1972      Shona Sculpture of Rhodesia – ICA London

1973      15th Annual Exhibition  National Gallery Zimbabwe

1974      African Artist Festival – Chicago, IL.  USA

1975      The Shona Phenomenone – South African Art Assoc.  Joburg, S.A.

1975      Standard Chartered Bank  Harare, Zimbabwe

1977      First World Wilderness Congress Exhibition  Joburg, S.A.

1977      Rhodesian Sculpture – South African Art Assoc,  Pretoria, S.A.

1978      Goodman Gallery  Johannesburg, South Africa

1978      Gallery Delta  Harare, Zimbabwe

1981      Shona Sculpture  Zimbabwe House  London

1981      Art in Action Festival  Waterperry, England

1981      Art from Africa  Commonwealth Institute  London

1982      Sculpture & Graphics  Gallery Delta  Harare, Zimbabwe

1983      Stein Skulpturen Aus Zimbabwe  Frankfurt, Germany

1983      Spirit of Zimbabwe  Institute of Directors  London

1984      Plaza Studios  Chelsea, London

1984      Shona Sculpture – Pulchri Studios  The Hague, Holland

1985      Zimbabwe Stone Sculpture – Kresge Art Museum Michigan State Univ. U.S.A.

1985      Contemporary Stone Sculpture From Zimbabwe – Irving Sculpture Gallery                                                        Sydney, Australia

1985      Kunschetze Aus Zimbabwe – Frankfurt, Germany

1985      Stein Skulpturen Aus Zimbabwe  Vienna, Austria

1986      ‘Soul In Stone’  Sydney, Australia

1987      Iwalewa-Haus-Bayreuth-Germany

1987      Zimbabwe Heritage U.N.E.S.C.O.  Paris, France

1987      Institution Italo – African  Rome, Italy

1987      Irving Sculpture Gallery  Sydney, Australia

1987      ‘Soul In Stone’  Melbourne, Australia

1988      ‘Soul In Stone’  Camberra, Australia

1988      Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition  National Gallery Zimbabwe

1989      Shona Sculpture – Robert Steele Gallery – Adelaide, Australia

1990      Artist’s Symposium  Auckland, New Zealand

1991      ‘Henry & Nicholas’  Reece Galleries  New York, U.S.A.

1992      Stone Sculpture International Symposium  Tokyo, Japan

1994      Shona Sculpture  Reece Galleries  New York, U.S.A.

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