I don't follow trends
Prosper Madamombe,a sculptor from Zimbabwe, is working in the art industry for decades. He is famous for his great works and for prestigious awards he won.
His sculptures are valued by famous collectors, among them the former first lady of his country. He is also focusing on making his society a better place by providing opportunities to the younger generations.
- Where does your passion for sculpting come from?
- My passion comes from within my spirit, blood and heart. I dominate the art industry by sending vibrations to the world. I started curving stones when I was 4 years old, looking back then I realize it was something inborn. It had it in my blood and spirit which helped me in the world of art to send a message to the world.
- How much time do you need to make a sculpture, from the time you come up with the idea to the time you get the final product? Is making the replica easier?
- I usually visualize in my mind as I take a look at the raw stone from different angles before getting the idea. You might think that work is done, but as time elapse and as you observe the sculpture again, most of the time it tells you that it is not done, and you are forced to work over and over until you feel it in your heart and eyes that it's done. The sculpture communicates with the creator, I think it needs real sculptor to see that the product is done. It is not that simple, and some can take 3 to 9 months to finish. Some master pieces take a year or even 5 years to create. It takes a long time to invent a unique new idea of a master piece.
Making a replica becomes easier to an artist because when you become acquainted with the first version, you seem to become one with the idea, and what type of stone to use. So, it’s much different from finding the idea from scratch.
- Do you first get the idea, then you look for the stone for the work, or do you first get the stone and then you find the idea from looking at the stone?
- There are certain ideas that you get before getting the stone and when you have acquired the stone you find a very different idea, but at times when you are not aware of that very same idea you find yourself making it. Stone curving is always fascinating especially with the imagination of bringing something out of nothing. Finding a master piece is a huge battle, coming up with the right idea cracks your mind finding the right image or a master piece inside the rock takes determination, time, and courage to execute your decision 'Michelangelo' would say in every rock there is a master piece.
- Where do you get the stones you use when you need to work on your sculptures?
- I get my stones from different mountainous places (mines) like Mvurwi and Guruve where I find Springstone and in Chiweshe I find Opal stone, in Mountdarwin I find dolomite stone, Mutare and Gureve I find Lapidolite stone, Zaka where I find petrified wood and Cobalt stones.
- Do you use any other mediums apart from stone?
- Yes, I do use different mediums like painting wood work, metal work and I can also cast bronze but I mostly love to work with stone.
- What happens if you make a mistake when chipping the stone? Do you change the original plan?
- I usually don't change the idea but reduce the size of the idea on the stone, but sometimes when creating a new idea I follow the direction that the stone is giving me. At times the stone gives you it's own design by a way of chipping off.
- Do weather changes affect your work?
- Since I prefer working on hard solid rocks my work suits all weather conditions from indoor and outdoor.
- Some of your sculptures are made using a form of a number. Why are numbers an important aspect of your work?
- Every time I crack my head about something numbers makes things clear for me, in my work Numbers defines who we are, everything on a human body has numbers even in the world we live in we are determined by numbers but also numbers can be personal.
- Your sculptures vary in weight, what is the lightest work you have done and what is the heaviest? What weight do you prefer to work with?
- I have made sculptures that weighed as little as 1kg and as heavy as 2000kgs. As an artist I am comfortable working with any weight given to me, proposed or assigned.
- What is the biggest sculpture work you have done? Was it a challenge?
- The biggest sculpture I have done was for the former 1st lady of Zimbabwe that weighed 2000kgs and my biggest challenge in doing this was working under pressure with limited time to finish the product especially given the designation of the person that I was making the sculpture for. I would allow challenges in trying to ensure that the sculpture comes out perfectly and accurately.
- Do you ever get sentimentally attached to your artwork? If so please explain?
- Because of the value I give to my work and the time I invest in making the stone sculpture it gives me such a sentimental attachment that I wouldn't give it away for less, I would rather keep it and enjoy seeing it until I get someone who will appreciate it's value the way I see it. You get hurt sometimes in the process of sculpting that sometimes results in bleeding. Somehow, it's a spiritual attachment to my sculptures. The thought of bleeding for your art naturally establishes that sentimental bond. I also have a believe that every sculpture has its own price and buyer.
- Which part of the sculpting experience do you enjoy the most?
- I am never well or happy without a hammer and chisel when I am working I need my body to be wet with water, I need a quiet environment all I need to hear is the sound of a hammer and a punch or chisel. Even though I need people around me they give me that energy when am I working. It's always interesting finding ideas to make the sculpture perfect, putting that feeling and movement to the stone.
- What obstacles do you face when making and exhibiting your work?
- Being a sculptor means having a different perspective on things and my art being controversial in some way. It's an intriguing experience as my belief and feeling is always right and never lets me down. As an artist I must not be limited in what I believe and what I should do in my heart. Most of my time id dedicated to sculpting a lot of sculptures with a few sculptures being sold at the end. I have challenges of securing raw stones because I will be having limited resources to purchase raw materials.
A True sculptor should not be limited by any barriers and people's opinions on their art. You should accept that it's not everyone will appreciate what you do, but at the same time it's not everyone that doesn't. Some buyers are used to classic sculptures, but I believe mine are unique since I don't follow trends, and that makes my Sculptures and prices different from the rest. When your sculptures hold a unique trend and have a deep message it becomes controversial. At times work and exposure is very much affected with politics, especially in countries were art is not appreciated.
- Do you ever run out of inspirational ideas?
- My stone work carries deep spiritual messages, and my inspiration comes from different themes like Animals, World systems, Egyptian history, bloodline, spirituality, rich and famous, women and men. I find these ideas from many aspects of reality and the funniest things I observe in life. Ideas also come from the world at large and the best things of nature in that circle and I also believe it's from my inner self, my ancestors and from the old masters like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo and my parents of course.
- We are living in a digital world, with many digital artworks. What do you think about digital sculptures if you could compare it to traditional sculptures?
- Traditional work is popular because its expression is connected to our beliefs of culture and spirituality. Stone sculpture is unique because it has survived both old and modern generations. Spiritual connection and originality can be farfetched from digital art than the traditional art. I think art should be considered in it's originality through the creation process and I think art is spiritual.
- You are working on promoting young artists. Why did you decide to become a mentor?
- My biggest advantage was being mentored at an early age by my parents. I discovered the world of art when I was young and this gives me a better understanding and a clear picture in my work. I now believe that experience can be the best teacher when you start from a tender age. Young artist should not miss this opportunity and they should not go through failure, but instead achieve success, like I encountered by learning from the best sculptor. Generations will live on for years and I will leave my legacy with them, so that it will be remembered through them, by giving them the opportunity to show case their works and improving their abilities to make sculptures with proper proportion, volume, base, feeling and movement.
- How has mentoring young artists influenced your work?
- This job carries a lot of competition and challenges. I believe seeing the faults of young Artists makes me want to improve more and makes me realize that everyone can be a subject of failure. It also keeps me ahead wanting to achieve the best out of my art and that sense of being a role model makes you improve my stone Sculptures every time.
- You come from an artistic family. Did your upbringing influence the type of work you are doing?
- It contributed a great deal. Yes in my upbringing I witnessed a plethora of sculptures which was being done by my parents, are in coming up with a unique style and my art is an epitome of both my parents and the old Masters.
- Has your work become an influence on your kids as well? Are they also drawn to becoming artists?
- To a large extend they have been drawn to artwork and most of the time when I am curving stone they are so Keen to give a hand. Even my wife is planning on quitting her legal profession and join the art industry. I think they are all passionate about my art.
View all artworks by Prosper Madamombe