Education: Munyaradzi never attended school, and struggled with the English language throughout his life. Henry was brought up by his uncle, Edward Chiwawa, who was a local carpenter; his education was practical and first-hand.
Known simply as Henry in the world of Shona art, Munyaradzi was born in 1931. Henry was considered pivotal in introducing Zimbabwean sculpture to the wider world. He derived his subject matter from natural , often combining it with religious imagery.
The strength of his work lies in the purity of form – technique and imagery are honed down to pinpoint the essence of his subject in the simplest of terms. The confident lines and clear-cut geometric incisions have often been compared to Klee (an artist of whom Munyaradzi will never have heard of) – but these symbols and his love for a finished product of great beauty and calm have been present in his work from the very beginning. His subject matter was taken from nature and only the intimate knowledge of this world can produce such minimal, but precise, expression. Being entirely self-taught his work blends the simplicity of the primitive with sophistication.
He greatly respects the stone he used and was often inspired by its original shape. It was an intense relationship with the material, as he worked spontaneously, neither drawing nor measuring. Despite its apparent simplicity the work cannot be reproduced, and he constantly worked in new ways to express his themes of contemplation and spirit through his relationship with the natural world and with his personal apostolic faith.
His work is found in the Permanent Collections of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Chapungu Sculpture Park and in Museums and private collections throughout the world, such as shows at the Rodin Museum in Paris and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in the 1960s-1970s.
Henry died in 1998 and is much missed by all those interested in the best of Zimbabwean sculpture.
World Economic Forum, Switzerland
The Indianapolis Museum of Art
McEwen Collection of the British Museum
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe
Rodin Museum, Paris
The Institue of Contemporary Arts, London (1960-1970)
The Chapungu Sculpture Park, U.S.A