The 5th of February marks exactly ten years after the death of Fanizani Akuda. Together with other group members in the 1960s they started what we now appreciate as the Zimbabwe Contemporary Sculpture Movement.
The journey they travelled as a group has been recorded and cherished in different circles and today Zimbabwe is recognized internationally because of its unique stone sculptures. Of equal importance and recognition are the promoters who saw an opportunity and talent and pursued it to the last. Such are the late Frank McEwen, Thomas Blomefield, Roy Guthrie, Roy Cook and a few others.
Fanizani Akuda was born in Zambia in 1932 and he migrated to Zimbabwe in 1949 in search of work and greener pastures. In the 1950’s he was employed at a farm as a cotton picker and later became a brick layer. He gained much experience working on tobacco farms that at one point he was employed as a farm manager. During this time in his spare time he would weave some baskets.
In the late 60’s he moved to Tengenenge where he was employed to dig serpentine stones from the mines. After being encouraged by Thomas Blomefield he decided to lend his hand to stone sculpture and he did with a strong conviction.
As early as 1967 when the Tengenenge Art Community was formed, his work was included in the Annual Heritage Exhibition by the then National Gallery of Rhodesia.
Over the years to follow his works were included in international exhibitions including the famous first exhibition of ‘Art from Rhodesia’ which was arranged and organized by Frank McEwen and hosted by the Musee Rodin in France.
Just like most of his contemporaries, Fanizani was interested in creating a style of his own. Today his work is identified through slit eyes, round shapes, cheerful and smiling heads and the most common signature being the whistling head. His themes included animals and human figures.
After leaving Tengenenge together with a few other artists because of the war in the 70’s he settled in Chitungwiza where collectors and promoters continued to sort his works. Amongst them were doctors, engineers, architects including Jorn Utzon the designer of the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
When the war ended in the early 1980, Fanizani did not return to Tengenenge. In the 1980’s he became famous for his depiction of a ‘Mother and Child’ a theme which was included in the collection by the Child Survival Foundation an initiative started by the late Sally Mugabe and supported by different artist like the late Nicholas Mukomberanwa. Being one of the pioneers of Tengenenge Art community together with the late Henry Munyaradzi, Bernard Matemera and many others, their creations form part of the amazing structure movement in Zimbabwe and internationally.
Today some of his sculptures form part of the permanent collection by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Tengenenge Art Community, The Chapungu Sculpture Park and the international organisation Humana People to People amongst others.
Below is a few selected awards and exhibitions.
1988 The National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe Certificate of Excellence in Visual Arts
1994 CITES Award of Achievement
2005 Diploma in Visual Arts (Humana People to People)
2000 Freedom of the City (Paris)
2009 NAMA Nominee
1967-92 Annual Heritage Exhibitions, National Gallery of Zimbabwe
1968 New African Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
1970 Museum of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi
1970 Union of Jewish Women, Henri Lidchi showroom, Salisbury
1970 Arte Tengenenge, Centro de Cultura e Arte, Beira, Mozambique
1970 Tengenenge Sculpture, Dorp Street Studio, Cape Town, South Africa
1970 Gallery Two, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
1970 Gallery Helliggejst, Copenhagen, Denmark
1972 The Great Stone Garden, Pretoria, South Africa
1975 One man Exhibition, Tengenenge Sculpture Gallery, Salisbury
1979 Akis Gallery, Standard Bank Centre, South Africa
1980 Tengenenge Sculpture, O.K. Mall, Eastgate, South Africa
1980 Feingarten Galleries, Los Angeles, USA
1981 Annual Heritage Exhibitions at the National Gallery, Harare
1981 Art from Africa, London, UK
1982 Janet Fleisher Gallery, Philadelphia, USA
1983 Sherman Camarillo, California, USA
1983 Images in Stone, Earl Sherman Gallery, Camerillo, California, USA
1984 Zimbabwe Stone Sculpture, Karen McKerron, Bryanston, South Africa.
1985 Kresge Art Museum, Michigan USA.
1986 Irving Sculpture Gallery, Sydney, Australia
1986 Soul in Stone, Allandale Centre, Perth, Australia
1987 Zimbabwe Heritage, Contemporary Stone Sculpture, Paris, France
1989 Fanizani and Chaurika, Chapungu Sculpture Park, Msasa, Harare
1989 Beeldhouwers van Zimbabwe, Wageningen, Netherlands
1990 Institut fur Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart, Germany
1990 Contemporary Stone Carving from Zimbabwe Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
1990 Musee National des Arts Africanise et Oceaniens, Paris
1990 Milles Garden Museum, Sweden
1992 Vroege Beelen uit Tengenenge, Galerie de Strang, Dodewaard, Netherlands
1993 Galerie Knud Grothe, Charllotenlund, Denmark
1993 Talking Stones II, Contemporary Fine Art Gallery, Eton, England
1993 Galerie Knud Grothe, Copenhagen
1994 Tengenenge Oud- Tengenenge Nieuw, Baarn, Netherlands
1995 Ointmoetting in Hamonie, Galerie de Strang, Dodewaard, The Netherlands
1995 Sandro’s Gallery, Harare
1995 Primart Gallery, Cape Town
1997 Gifts of the Sun, Amsterdam, Netherlands
1998 Gallery Die Rooiperd, Netherlands
1998 Artistes contemporains du Zimbabwe, Pierre Gallery, France
1998 Zimbabwe stenen Getuigenissen, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium
2000 Fanizani Akuda, One Man Exhibition, Paris, France
2004 Begues, Barcelona, Spain
2004 Fortaleza, Maputo, Mozambique
2005 Hotel Hilton, Vienna, Austria
2005 The Castle Zeist, Holland
2005 The Legend of Zimbabwe’s Stone Sculpture: Fanizani Akuda, Solo Retrospective,
National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
2006 Villa Litta, Lainate, Italy
2006 Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, Russia
2006 Boserup Gallery, Boserup, Denmark
2006 Master Sculptors of Zimbabwe, Group exhibition, Italy
2007 The Summer School Exhibition, Washington DC, USA
2007 Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway
As we mark exactly 10 years of his death on the 5th of February this year, AVAC Arts reveal a few of his sculptures they still have in their collection. Please take time to go through the online gallery. Proceeds will benefit dependents of the late Fanizani Akuda family.