Born in 1968, Dominic Benhura has emerged as a Zimbabwean sculptor who is known and respected outside his “backyard”, and indeed outside his country. The "Benhura Phenomenon", the Awards, the Keys of the City, and the accolades which are not usually given to sculptors have not yet been prone to complex analysis, and perhaps this is not necessary.
Dominic is an artist who represents in his sculpture many things with which people can identify, whatever their culture or race. From Swing Me Mama to HIV Friend, Benhura captures moments in time that we have experienced ourselves or known others to experience. His sculptures may, perhaps, have a wider appeal than any other sculptures made in stone in Zimbabwe. There is a direct link between the sculptors and their sculpture- Benhura is a man of social consciousness, strong family values, hope, and optimism about his country. He is a lover and conserver of nature. All these things about him are evident in his sculptures.
Dominic Benhura has achieved world standing as a sculptor. As the world shrinks, he grows in stature and becomes known in the further reaches of the earth. Globalization has had a direct effect on his success; the expansion of the international market for stone sculpture as the outcome of new technologies has been of enormous benefit. Constantly he is challenged by the demands for his work, yet he rigorously pursues the allowance of time to make original and compelling sculptures and to do daring things with his stones. Most recently, he has returned to the natural world, to what lives above and under the earth and the water, creatures whose habits are similar to those of men and women.
His work appeals as much to the person who knows nothing of sculpture as to the connoisseur. His whistle-stop existence punctuated with long spells of making sculpture has taken him around the world, and he has a set of relationships and collaborative partnerships with art dealers the world over. In his own country of Zimbabwe, he has become somewhat of an icon, a role model for young people who reaches further than his fellow sculptors into the wider community of the country’s youth.
In his own country of Zimbabwe, he has become somewhat of an icon, a role model for young people who reaches further than his fellow sculptors into the wider community of the country’s youth.
Dominic Benhura has come from the kind of humble background that many Zimbabwean artists have come from. By dint of determination, rather than bravado he has moved from that background, to create for him, a solid and enduring family life. Part of the appeal of his work is his ability to capture the restless perpetual motion of children, the manner in which they constantly run, leap, jump, and scale fences, and trees. Some see his sculptures and look back to the days when we ourselves were children, while others see their own children in his sculptures. Parents see his sculptures as models for good parenting. We derive much comfort from his sculptures regarding the blessings of family life and a safe upbringing for our children. We know these things can be if we work at them and hold them dear.
In Johannesburg, in 2003, Dominic Benhura met Nelson Mandela, a man whose pinnacle of human achievement has seldom been reached. Benhura himself sees sculpture as an aspect of human endeavor, a tough and disciplined profession, a profession demanding physical strength, moral strength, and strength of mind. His work does not merely illustrate, it depicts the emotions and feelings of the subject which are often our emotions and feelings about the same thing. One of Benhura’s creations, Swing Me Mama, was installed in an area commemorating Mandela. As a great humanitarian, Benhura felt at one with this meeting and recognized in Mandela an energetic response to the meaning of the sculpture.
Benhura’s work embodies the “civic conscience” of any given society; its intention is to move people, to make them aspire to a better life, and organize society in such a way that solid and enduring values are its firmament.
“I have been blessed with a career in which I find much peace and happiness. I am at my most content when I am working from my studio at home, surrounded by family and friends.”