Multi-Award winning and first generation visual artist, sculptor Lazarus Takawira dies

The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) would like to express its deepest sympathy and sorrow following the death of Lazarus Takawira, one of the country’s multi-award winning and foremost Visual Arts first generation sculptors.

By Rodney Ruwende
Communication and Marketing Manager, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe

NACZ Director Mr Nicholas Moyo says the country has lost a legend of Shona stone sculpture whose name is recognisable across the globe for his artworks. 

“Our hearts were immediately filled with sorrow upon hearing the news of Lazarus’s passing. Our most sincere condolences go out to the Takawira family which has lost a father, grandfather and Icon of Zimbabwean stone Sculpture.

Mr Moyo said Lazarus was a pioneering Sculptor whose work is held in the permanent and overseas collections of the Zimbabwean National Gallery, as well as various public collections around the world, including the Musee du Rodin in Paris, The World Bank in New York, The Africa Museum in Belgium and the Museum of Mumbai, India. 

“The death of Lazarus is a big blow to the local arts industry. “

“While he began working in sculpture under his brother John’s guidance in the early 1970s over time his style, subject matter and approach changed considerably as he worked almost exclusively in Springstone, an exceptionally hard and heavy local stone that gave his work a beautiful finish,” said Mr Moyo.

Takawira was born in 1952 in Nyanga the youngest in a family of four boys. He attended St. Paul’s Secondary School and joined the Police Force after completing his secondary education and received his training at Tomlison depot in Harare in 1970. By the time Lazarus joined the Police force his brothers John and Bernard were already beginning to establish themselves as prominent sculptors both locally and internationally. 

Lazarus Takawira standing next to one of his pieces

During his career with the Police Force, Lazarus did a lot of sculpting in his spare time and his sculptures were exhibited in several exhibitions. In 1980 Lazarus left the force as he felt his work had gained sufficient acclaim to allow him to take up sculpting full time. 

“His early work showed a definite influence by his brothers but as time went on his individuality began to come to the fore. He then developed an unmistakable style of his own, which brought him fame at home and abroad,” Mr Moyo said.

An art piece by Lazarus Takawira

During his decades’ long career Takawira was a recipient of many local and international awards including the National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) (2008), Award of Merit, Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe (1993), Award of Distinction, Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe(1991), Certificate of Excellence, Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe (1990), Award of Merit, Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe (1989), Certificate of Excellence, Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe (1988) and the Commission for Old Mutual, (1987).

He also participated in various local and International Solo and Group exhibitions including the “Spirit of a Woman”, Galerie Emil Julis, Černčice, Czechia (2009), Französische Botschaft, Harare, (1989) and the Standard Chartered Gallery, John Boyne House, (1987). Other exhibitions include the “Embracing the Spirit”, Henley on Thames, London, UK (2010), “Sculptors of Zimbabwe”, National Museum of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenia (2008) and the Minnesota Rocks International Stone Carving Symposium (2006) among others. 


“Zimbabwe Sculptors Association joins the Takawira family and the entire stone sculptors community in mourning Zimbabwean art legend Lazurus Takawira whose art is found some high value art collections around the world.His art helped pave the way and create access for a generation of artists.Thank you for your contributions to the Zimbabwe art movement.”

CONDOLENCE MESSAGE from the ZIMBABWE SCULPTORS ASSOCIATION / Taurai Tigere

May his Soul Rest in Peace.