30th Nov, 2021 18:00

Modern & Contemporary Art | Johannesburg

Lot 54
Lot 54 - Alfred Thoba (South Africa 1951-)


Alfred Thoba (South Africa 1951-)
Fruits of Life

oil on board

Artwork date: 1990
Signature details: signed and dated bottom right

Sold for R591,760
Estimated at R300,000 - R500,000


oil on board

Artwork date: 1990
Signature details: signed and dated bottom right


114.5 x 63 cm; framed size: 123 x 91.5 x 2.5 cm


Private collection, Johannesburg.

Strauss & Co., South African and International Art, 20 May 2013, Lot 272.


Alfred Thoba pursues a social realism that mixes the visual language of naive art with a humorous slant. He became renowned as a member of a generation of resistance artists who used their work to voice opposition to the apartheid state. His work has remained largely concerned with contentious social, cultural and political themes.

Though Thoba was born in Sophiatown, Johannesburg – an obviously urban reality – he has been exploring the tension between traditional rural and cultural values set against western and African ideals. He often draws on stories reported in newspapers for insights and ideas for his work.

This compelling oil on board painting, satirically titled Fruits of Life from 1990, depicts three men whose eyes gaze at fruits on a tree as they gesture towards plucking. Nearby, a female figure in a white dress walks towards them; the front of her frock lifted to reveal her thighs. In this way, Thoba plays on the idea of fruits which in street slang can also refer to the desirable feminine sensual features.

Fruits of Life is a seminal work in the development of Thoba’s market. In May 2013, the painting sold for R818 496, the second-highest price ever achieved by the artist at auction. Thoba has since had a major retrospective exhibition of his work in 2018 curated by Julia Charlton, Alfred Thoba: A Step Becomes a Statement, at the Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg.

Percy Mabandu

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Auction: Modern & Contemporary Art | Johannesburg, 30th Nov, 2021


A focused collection of top historical, modern and contemporary artworks, this boutique-style sale presents impressive examples of South Africa’s best-known artists at auction. Included is a wonderful oil on canvas still-life by Irma Stern painted in 1936, an exquisite equestrian painting by Tretchikoff, 4 early watercolours by George Pemba, a monumental Villa from 1976 and 6 superb lots by William Kentridge. Also on offer are impressive contemporary works by Kate Gottgens, Phillemon Hlungwani, Wim Botha and Banele Khoza, amongst others.


Viewing will be open from Wednesday 24 to Tuesday 30 November from 9 am to 5 pm.

Address: 32 Bolton Road, Parkwood, Johannesburg, 2193

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