Between Me and the Stone


Between Me and the Stone

This November, we proudly present our third major exhibition of Shona stone sculptures from Zimbabwe in the presence of Dominic Benhura. Dominic is considered today to be the most important Shona sculptor, having participated in 30 solo exhibitions in Africa, Europe, USA and Australia. Strongly motivated to explore new concepts and techniques to express himself, Dominic has an exceptional ability to portray human feeling through form rather than facial expression. In this his latest body of work he incorporates inlaid stone in his trademark designs. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he sketches profusely and keeps a sketchbook close at hand recording ideas as they come to him.  Once he has selected the rock he needs for a certain sketch he destroys the sketch so that it no longer influences him. “It is now between me and the stone”, he says.

The subject matter for Shona sculptors has often been family. The pieces are usually carved to express both personal and spiritual beliefs. The younger generation of sculptors have a simplicity to their work belonging to an art movement that first gained international exposure in the 1950’s and is widely accepted as the most important art movement to emerge from Africa in the twentieth century. They speak of fundamental human experiences such as grief, elation, humour, anxiety, and spiritual search, always communicated in a profoundly simple and direct way that is rare and extremely refreshing. These artists still work by hand, with spontaneity and confidence in their skills, unrestricted by externally imposed ideas of what their art should be. Upon close inspection one is always aware of the stone’s contribution towards the finished sculpture, that it has a spirit and life of its own. 

Other participating sculptors this year are Lovemore Bonjisi, Gregory Mutasa, Bywell Sango, Leonard Sezendo, and David White. 



Sculpture is a prominent and powerful medium in African art. Sculpture makes up the second largest segment in the global art market, accounting for an astonishing USD626.3 million in auction sales in the second quarter of this year alone (MutualArt).  Over the past two decades, sculpture – as a progressive collecting category – has gained widespread popularity. Demand for sculpture continues to grow, not only due to its investment potential, but also because of the current mainstream concern for the medium. It is encouraging to see how reputable institutions; fairs and exhibitions are deliberately moulding their focus around sculpture today.