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Biography of Lazarus TAKAWIRA

Zimbabwe > Arts : Lazarus TAKAWIRA

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Biography :

Takawira Lazarus ( 1952) is a Zimbabwean sculptor.

Lazarus Takawira, the youngest of three Takawira brothers, cannot be contained by the success of his older brothers, the lates  Bernard  Takawira and  John. Takawira  His reputation is personally established and his work is easily recognisable. Lazarus Takawira cannot separate his life from his art, and his sculpture is primarily a form of self expression. Rather than exploring his relationship to his Shona culture through his sculpture he explores the relationship of his Shona culture to himself, and records how he sees the significance of traditional Shona beliefs and observances to his own personal experiences. His Christian beliefs are profound, but if observance of a Shona belief is applicable to a personal situation he will represent it in his sculpture. His sculpture puts his personal life on public display. It largely depicts his reactions to events which have taken place in his life, in particular his relationships with other people. To emphasise that his work is self-referential, he will often incorporate a self-portrait into the stone which he sees as his signature.

His sculptures are often a cathartic response to events of some complexity. My Recent Problem defies description of the problem. The stone has been carved with tremendous energy and a brute force. There is a maelstrom of forms, and a confusion of mass and planes. This was Takawira's response, prior to marriage, of the attraction of a girlfriend to another man. Rather than fighting the other man he fought the stone. Unconsciously working through the problem in his art he reached the solution.

In a sense, Lazarus Takawira's sculptures are a response to Nicholas Mukomberanwa's comment: "You must put your own history into the stone rather than present the history of the stone only. " His sculptures not only tell the viewer much about the artist, they objectify his relationship with himself and make him look at his problems as he would those of another person, in particular, recurring problems he cannot control or master. There are some occasions when Lazarus Takawira stands back rather than comes forward. His Eye Witness observes a crime through a gouged-out space in the stone which appears to take in many things at once. A fully defined eye appears oblivious to anything that is going on. His Man Changing into a Buffalo allows metamorphosis to take place before our eyes, the smooth skin of the man contorts into the wrinkled skin of the buffalo, the lidless eyes swell and bulge from the stone, the head is massive and fleshy.

Recently his sculptures have become less anecdotal, and more concerned with the exploration of pure form rather than the depicting of subject. As he has matured, it is possible that his reactions to events have become less emotional, that he has begun to handle his problems personally and he no longer needs to work them through his art. His Zimbabwe Bird in green serpentine presents an abstracted realisation of the character and form of all birds, possibly a paradigm for the way in which the Zimbabwe Bird has become a national symbol to all Zimbabweans. A preoccupation with pure form is an objective he shares with his brother Bernard, and it points to a possible new direction in Zimbabwean sculpture.

Lazarus Takawira is a large man like his brothers Bernard and  John, and his emotions and feelings have previously been on an appropriate scale. If his sculptures are small and compact the impact of a statement about his personal feelings is not reduced through the size of his art. Perhaps having said too much too soon, today his work says little about subject but a great deal about developing notions of pure form and aesthetic sensibilities. It raises the question of whether there is any need for statement in art and speaks on behalf of form with increasing sophistication.

Awards and Achievements.

1987: Commission for Old Mutual, Harare,

1987: Commission of Water Spirit for Chapungu Village Sculpture Garden, Harare;

1988: Certificate of Excellence, Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe;

1989: Award of Merit, Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe;

1990: Certificate of Excellence, Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe.

ONE PERSON EXHIBITION: 1987: Standard Chartered Gallery, John Boyne House, Harare.

Selected Group Exhibitions.

1985: Contemporary Stone Sculpture from Zimbabwe, Irving Sculpture Gallery, Sydney (in association with The Gallery Shona Sculpture, Harare);

1986: Soul in Stone, Irving Sculpture Gallery (in association with The Gallery Shona Sculpture, Harare);

1989: Spirit and Matter, Le Forum, French Embassy, Harare;

1989: Present and Future, Le Forum, French Embassy, Harare;

1989: Zimbabwe op de Berg, Foundation Beelden op de Berg, Wageningen, Holland;

1990: Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition (National Gallery of Zimbabwe) Auckland, New Zealand, during Commonwealth Games;

1990/91: Contemporary Stone Carving from Zimbabwe, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, U.K.


Private collections inside and outside Zimbabwe.

Last update : 06/17/2007

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