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TONDERAI MAREZVA

1974, Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe

Is there one sculpture or two? Tonderayi Marezva presents to his viewers a statement about man’s complexities – our public, private and spiritual sides. Cutting his stones to his own specifications, he presents one side of a face in darkly polished springstone and the other, in a worked surface, pure and white. Tonderayi is not at ease with the traditional anecdotal work of the early Zimbabwean sculptors- rather, he psychologically explores man. He confronts man’s duality -the public face and his alter ego. Tonderai's work explores one’s states of mind and one’s relationship to the subconscious and unconscious worlds.
Tonderayi feels strongly about African traditions and believes that ancestral spirits are guides and mentors to the mortal realm. Space is an inherent property of his sculptures and one considers if the use of space is representative of a more spiritual realm one cannot access. On occasion, he outlines a facial form through negative space in addition to two other carved profile faces – in essence, three faces can be found. This is especially unique for Zimbabwean sculpture and indeed shows mastery. Tonderai has worked with like-minded adventurous sculptors including Nesbert Mukomberanwa and Chichewa Jamal. These are sculptors who have "cut and paste" their stones to remove any sense of the stones original shape thus, creating an entirely unique form. Tonderai succeeds as a sculptor through his juxtapositions of texture and tone- the inky dark polished surfaces contrast sharply to its rough white surfaces. By removing himself from any traditional references, Tonderai creates a contemporary work that searches for an understanding of people and their social and psychological composition.
Outside of Zimbabwe, Tonderai is rapidly being realized as one of the most deep thinking sculptors of today, a sculptor who cuts across the work of his peers and elders and shares none of their preoccupations and concerns. His work is not social commentary; he does not lament in his stone about the world around him; he does not escape into the natural world to find solace from his problems. Rather, Tonderai takes the human condition into his hands, and realizes his feelings about it and its complexities in stone sculptures of stunning appearance and minimal abstract forms. His work has been seen in countries where the avant garde in art is to their liking- Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.
Subsequent to a trip to Hermanus in 2004, Tonderayi was inspired by the elegant and streamlined shapes of the whale fluke. He embarked upon a process of reconstructing whale tails using the deep and rich colours of springstone. His whale tails have received international acclaim and were the centerpiece of the house of the year in Dubai 2006.
Tonderayi is also on of ten featured artist in Celia Winter Irving’s “New Visions in Stone” published in 2002 and has participated in numerous sculpture workshops In South Africa and the United Kingdom.

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