Contemporary Fine Art @ The Piper Art Bar

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Tinei Mashaya’s life-story

Zimbabwe-born sculptor Tinei Mashaya has a growing reputation as a creator of some of the most cutting-edge Shona sculptures to emerge from the southern African country in the past decade.

Mashaya’s art lingers in the region between sensualism and spirituality. His work is essentially grounded in real memories, events, and experiences. He has also enhanced the presentation of the traditional subject matter while simultaneously creating new forms that break the conventions of the first generation of Shona sculpture.

The much-travelled 32-year-old has carved an entirely new philosophical and visual ground that embraces the aesthetic endowments of African flora and fauna. A traditional romantic, Mashaya brings to life his philosophies by way of offering the stark contrasts between our modern day-to-day life and the puritan past.

Early beginnings

Using the knowledge and skill of his ancestors, Mashaya carves vivid and inspired sculptures from the many fine stones found in his native Zimbabwe. Each of his pieces, speaks of the yearning to break free from the stifling needs of the physical body. He says his inspiration comes from his uncontrollable desire to solidify ideas and feelings.

“When I am at work, chisel and hammer in hand, I am no different from a diplomat on a table brokering a peace deal of a very delicate political impasse,” the affable Mashaya says.

“I come from a school that communicates with stone and rocks. We have to negotiate and compromise as I chip away at a boulder…until it reveals itself, as a man, animal, plant, what have you,” he explains.

Tinei owes much of his training and encouragement to his brother, Passmore Mashaya, and to Euwitt Nyanhongo, who are renowned artists in their own rights.

He was born in Nyanga on 8th February 1978 and was educated at Mazarura Primary and Secondary schools. During his childhood he discovered his natural artistic gifts while drawing mountains and trees, animals and hunters – making this a hobby and major pastime from early on. It was hence no surprise at all when in January 1992 Tinei finally picked up his chisel and hammer and chose the life of a stone sculptor.

A leading light

Today, he is regarded as a beacon of a new breed of enterprising artists, spelling a new era of creativity and holding one-man exhibitions in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Holland.

Thought provoking and insightful, his works have intrigued novice and experiences sculpture fanatics alike. His subject matter is extensive, including plants, trees, animals and the whole gamut of human experience.

His piece, “Flying Angel” portrays the struggle of the soul in its yearning to attain the realms of the bodiless.

Another archetypal work, “Springing into Life” captures the vibrancy of existence and embodies Tinei’s signature skills of merging the smooth and the edged all in one stroke.


True to the Shona adage that instructs, “Forget not your roots”, Tinei has always retained a sense of communal responsibility. His “Living Stone Charity” gives regular donations to his adopted hospital, Nyanga General Hospital, supplying the state-owned health centre with much needed funds for medicine, drugs and equipment at a time when Zimbabwe’s economy is in the doldrums. “I believe that my success and blessings come from caring and supporting others, especially the poor and vulnerable amongst us. I will never turn my back on my community as they made me the man I am today,” Tinei says.

Nicholas Pritchard

Gallery Owner

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Today's Date: 1 Apr 2020

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