Joseph Ndandarika

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Joseph Ndandarika (c. 1941 – May 1991) was a Zimbabwean sculptor known for his figurative works.

Ndandarika grew up in Rusape, and was the son of a Malawian bus driver and a Shona mother.[1] His mother was artistic and occasionally worked as a model for the sculptor Job Kekana, another Rusape resident. After completing primary school, he attended a Catholic boarding school at Serima Mission in the late 1950s. His artistic talent was identified there by Fr John Groeber and Cornelius Manguma, who trained him in drawing and woodcarving. While at Serima he was chosen by Groeber to paint several murals inside St. Mary's church.[2]

Magic Bird. 1962. mixed media

After leaving Serima in 1959, he moved to Salisbury and joined Frank McEwen's Workshop School in Harare in 1960. Initially he became one of McEwen's leading painters, specializing in landscapes and witchcraft scenes. Due to McEwen's preference for untrained, pagan artists, Ndandarika hid his training at Serima for many years. He also developed a new persona as having been the grandson of a sangoma, alleging that he had undergone extensive training with him.[3] The height of Ndandarika's painting career came when MoMA acquired his 1962 oil, "Bushmen Running From the Rain."[4] Ndandarika's signature was his mixing of the paints on the canvas rather than the palette, a technique that created a highly uneven surface.[5]

After several years of painting, Ndandarika was sent by McEwen to train in stone sculpture with Joram Mariga. During the mid-1960s he gradually shifted more and more towards sculpting, and would end up in all of McEwen's major exhibitions that made Zimbabwean stone sculpture famous. Ndandarika's biggest impact may have been convincing McEwen that in Shona mythology, spirits inhabited rock formations. This formulation had a major impact in McEwen's marketing of his sculpture, leading him to claim that his sculptors were unleashing the spirit in the stone in the course of their work.[6] Ndandarika was able to keep selling through the hard times of the 1970s following McEwen's departure from Rhodesia, and during the 1980s Zimbabwean arts revival he was one of the country's most prominent "first generation" sculptors.[7]

He was married for a time to the sculptor Locardia Ndandarika, and his children Ronnie Drigo and Virginia Ndandarika are also artists. Ndandarika also served as a teacher and mentor to a number of artists, including Jonathan Mhondorohuma.


  1. ^ E. Morton, "Frank McEwen and Joram Mariga: Patron and Artist in the Rhodesian Workshop School Setting, Zimbabwe," in S. Kasfir and T. Forster, eds., African Art and Agency in the Workshop (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013), 284. ISBN 9780253007582
  2. ^ E. Morton, "Patron and Artist in the Shaping of Zimbabwean Art," in G. Salami and M. Visona, eds., A Companion to Modern African Art (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2013), 242-3. ISBN 9781444338379
  3. ^ Morton, "Frank McEwen and Joram Mariga," 284.
  4. ^ "80 Newly Acquired Works on View at the Museum of Modern Art." Press Release No 12 February 16, 1965.
  5. ^ E. Morton, "Father John Grober's Workshop at Serima Mission," 2012.
  6. ^ Morton, "Frank McEwen and Joram Mariga," 284.
  7. ^ B. Joosten, Sculptors from Zimbabwe: the first generation (Amsterdam: Galerie De Strang, 2001), 60.