Zimbabwean Shona artist Moses Masaya
Moses Masaya (1947-1996)

Moses Masaya was born in Nyanga, eastern Zimbabwe. His first exposure to sculpture came after he left school in 1966, when a local artist, Frank Vanji, taught him the basics. The pivotal moment, however, came in 1968 when Moses first saw the work of Joram Mariga, historically the most influential of Zimbabwe’s first generation of stone sculptors, who quickly recognised Masaya’s talent.

In 1970 he joined the Vukutu Workshop in Nyanga, which was set up by Frank McEwen (Director of the National Gallery) as a quiet rural retreat where leading artists could work undisturbed by the pace of modern life. His career received a tremendous early boost the following year when a number of his sculptures featured prominently in the exhibition of Shona sculpture held at the Musée Rodin in Paris.

Masaya always preferred to carve the green serpentine stone plentiful near his rural Nyanga home. Throughout his sculpting career, he continued to impose his own lines on the stone, often changing the stone’s original shape quite dramatically. His faces and figures show his preference for sharp, clean lines. "This is my vision of creation," he once said. "If I were the creator, this is how I would have made them."


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