Mon, 17th Jul 2017 17:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 165
Lot 165 - Alfred Thoba (South Africa 1951-)


Alfred Thoba (South Africa 1951-)
Bishop of ZCC with Hends of Death People (sic)

oil on board

Artwork date: 2017
Signature details: signed, dated 16/3/2017 and inscribed with the title on the reverse

Sold for R90,944
Estimated at R80,000 - R120,000

Condition Report


Please note, we are not qualified conservators and these reports give our opinion as to the general condition of the works. We advise that bidders view the lots in person to satisfy themselves with the condition of prospective purchases.


oil on board

Artwork date: 2017
Signature details: signed, dated 16/3/2017 and inscribed with the title on the reverse


58 x 81 cm

Accompanied by a signed letter from the artist.


An important painter in South African history, Alfred Thoba is a significant name in the apartheid resistance art canon. While Thoba’s earlier practice shifted into a necessary and overtly political tradition, reflecting the urgency of the times, his later works are characterised by their nuanced explorations of post-1994 South Africa, with a particular interest in Western religions’ relationship to black spiritual traditions.It was the nineties that saw Thoba’s painting moving into an ethically and emotionally involved phase, in which the internal politics of Christianity, specifically the Zionist Christian Church (‘ZCC’), provided an entry point into articulating contentions with widely held views on sexuality, bodily agency, and spirituality in a democratising South Africa. In Bishop of ZCC with Hends of Death People, Thoba invites his viewer into an ambiguous scene, with the centrally placed bishop foregrounding what appears to be a church congregation. These ’death people’, as articulated in the title, seem bent on the mortification of a vulnerably positioned woman behind bars, as they raise their hands at her threateningly. A few others in the image, including the bishop, are exposed in similar way, with their genitals visible through their clothing. The disturbing scene, with its heavy outlining, flattened and stylised figuration and compact composition, is as dark as it is enigmatic.With Thoba’s primary concern being the loss of black spiritual traditions in modern South Africa, he seems, through this idiosyncratic scene painted in a subdued palette, to excavate the overwhelming unease that continues to lurk in spaces where colonial heritage is undeniable.

Thuli Gamedze

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, Mon, 17th Jul 2017

Aspire Art Auctions’ second Johannesburg sale offered a selection of some of the best works produced by local and international artists available on the local market. Offerings included Cameroonian-born, Belgium-based, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Chilean, Eugenio Dittborn, and South Africans, William Kentridge, Kendell Geers, Louis Maqhubela, Cecil Skotnes, Maggie Laubser, Irma Stern, and Mohau Modisakeng, amongst others.

The sale was led by an international auction record of R1 200 320 achieved for a drawing, Children under Apartheid, by exiled South African artist Dumile Feni, as well as the successful sale of top international lot Golden Mask by renowned performance artist Marina Abramović. 


Friday 14 July 2017 | 10 am – 7 pm
Saturday 15 July 2017 | 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday 16 July 2017 | 10 am – 4 pm

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