Rugare Robin Kutinyu

Sculptor Artist 

Robin Kutinyu has been surrounded by art his entire life with his father an acclaimed Zimbabwean sculptor and oil painter whose specialty was endangered wildlife. Alongside him, Robin first started sculpting from the age of five, finishing his fathers’ pieces and subsequently honing his own skills, selling his first collection of birds and turtles at the tender age of ten. Robin has always been absorbed by the human form and the movement and anatomy of the animals and people so beautifully portrayed in his work.

Since those precious days of bonding over their craft, Robin has expanded to other genres and is today best known for his humanoid figures, horses and endangered species. The majority of his work is sold abroad. 

Asked how he decides on the process, Robin says he finds inspiration from the ideas that form in his thoughts, creating a message that he wants to get out, to dramatise and express. ‘Capturing a certain movement so when you look at the piece you feel drawn into it and the sense of what is happening to the point where it feels real.’

The strongest memory of his childhood is sculpting alongside his father. That is where his love of art comes from. ‘I am absorbed by movement and anatomy’, he says.

Yet a large portion of Robin’s work remains about feel, what he wants to express and what he’s feeling in the moment. This radiates in his art and his followers and fans love it. There are commissions, but the bulk of what he creates is driven by these impulses. Or he’ll return from a ballet, a captivating dance, and want to express in his art what he has seen. 

Studying masters like Donatello, Bernini and Rodin taught Robin a lot about the different forms the human body can be presented in. To choose the right expression and media for an idea is the task that sets his work apart. Robin’s favourite stones are granite, for its multiple texture finishing qualities, marble for its classic association with sculptures, Bowenite, Potoro Leonardo and Jasper stone for the contrasting texture between polished and unpolished.

‘Bronze offers a lot more movement, giving it a different feel and more liberties than stone. That said, although stone may be more challenging, in that often the greatest reward.’

Amazed by the physicality of the work, Robin assures that it never occurs to him. He loves what he does to the point where he doesn’t feel the weight of the work. Stone is of course is demanding on the body, but the anaesthetising effect of being all consumed by the creative process and the excitement of the pending outcome, means he never really feel it.

Robin manages to capture the very essence of his subjects, immortalising a moment, a look or a feel. His work is about the soul, not just the outer form which he painstakingly works to perfect. Taking inspiration from various places, the sculptures often develop from an idea that naturally forms in his mind.

He has private collectors in the USA, Germany, England, Australia, Switzerland and a small but growing number in South Africa, one of the highlights being two life size tigers commissioned by the mother of an international sports figure. Robin has held personal exhibitions at the Afridesia Gallery, Red Bank, New Jersey and an art promotional exhibition at the Spanish ambassador, Cape Town’s residence.

Robin often works in the silence of the desert, where his sculptures start to take shape. Moving stones that weigh several tons becomes a cathartic exercise to him. The tension between raw material and the finished pieces keeping him excited throughout the various processes of creation.

As a Zimbabwean what does Cape Town mean to you? ‘Cape is the closest if not equivalent to home, because of proximity and climate. It has it’s own unique touch to it and mostly, for now it is home.’

‘Robin Kutinyu reminds us with a refreshing jolt to the senses, that the world around us is a fertile space. He fills that space with shapes that connect to the raw essence of our humanity, so often numbed by the cold austerity of our tech-swarmed world. His eyes and hands are the voices of his soul, deeply layered with harmonies of compassion, generosity and a purity of purpose.’