Born in 1968 in rural Mashonaland, Zimbabwe, Dominic Benhura began sculpting at the age of 12, mentored by Tapfuma Gutsa – an older cousin who was already an established artist. Four years later Dominic was dividing his time between his high-school studies and sculpting and was exhibiting his work in group shows in the country’s capital, Harare. His first public recognition came at the age of 18 when he won first prize at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s Annual Schools Competition. Within four years he had been invited to show his work overseas at the Millesgarten Sculpture Park and Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.
After many early formative years spent at Chapungu Sculpture Park in Harare, Benhura started to gain international recognition. In 1995 Benhura opened a studio in Harare where a group of accomplished sculptors work alongside new talent, sharing their expertise in an informal mentoring program. This interest in supporting artists in their development has made Dominic a popular teacher and he is frequently invited to run sculpting workshops at home, in the USA, and Europe.
Dominic’s subject matter is extensive including plants, trees, reptiles, animals and the whole gamut of human experience. He has an exceptional ability to portray human feeling through form rather than facial expression. He continues to lead by experimentation and innovation; his work is bold and daring and he captures balance and movement both physically and emotionally. His prime motivation is to explore new ideas, concepts, techniques and methods and to express and communicate powerfully simple ideas. Nature, family and the relationships with his children are the main inspiration for his sculptures.
Benhura continues to garner awards for his work and is considered to be one of the most collectable artists to emerge from the Zimbabwe stone carving movement. Recent commissions include a lifesize sculpture for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation and five monumental sculptures for the Kyung Am Sculpture Park and Museum in South Korea. His work can be seen in museums, art collections and public spaces around the world.
“Benhura’s work represents an important epoch in the genesis of Zimbabwean art whose interpretation, definition and development is still to be fully explored in the context of African cultural values and contemporary aesthetics.” Zimbabwean Art Critic, Pikirirayi Deketeke