Sun, 12th Nov 2017 17:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 74
Lot 74 - Dumile Feni (South Africa 1942-1991)


Dumile Feni (South Africa 1942-1991)
Man and crucifix

charcoal on paper

Artwork date: 1965
Signature details: signed and dated

Sold for R113,680
Estimated at R90,000 - R120,000

Condition Report

Cockling, paper slightly oxidised, very minor creasing. Not examined out of the frame, full report available on request.

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.


charcoal on paper

Artwork date: 1965
Signature details: signed and dated


74.5 x 52.5 cm


Dumile Feni is arguably one of the most influential artists in modern South African art history. His approach to drawing and anatomy weighs in across the variegated bodies of work that define South African art, and certainly lurks in the kinetic drawings of William Kentridge and the hyper figurative pieces of Blessing Ngobeni. Feni’s early works, deeply influenced by the 1950s decolonization period, stressed human vulnerability and the quest for freedom.Pieces such as Man and Crucifix, Walking Man and Protest are part of his pre-exile repertoire. This period is often characterised as “emotional,” owing to its dystopic compositions and visceral approach to drawing and sculpture. As we see in these images, either through their agile lines or the command of the charcoal medium, Feni’s style seems ardent at reaching for the heart, in a heartless world. Though there are differing approaches to the media, a closer comparative study of these works shows a considerable similarity beyond the conceptual element.With the fresh wounds of Sharpeville and Pondoland gaping, where unsolicited death and strife was the order of the system, artists like Feni were not spectators to a distant ordeal, but as deeply vulnerable to the whims of racial hatred. The performative role of these pieces thus exceeds being merely visual testaments, but they are also archival materials to which the viewer returns to reflect.With the same body still pitted between social crufixion and protest, it is however unwise to consistently treat the past or these images as relics that belong into the storeroom of time.Feni met his death in 1991 in exile before he could finally return home. These works are testimony to his profound influence on the South African art world.

Athi Mongezeleli Joja

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, Sun, 12th Nov 2017

Aspire’s final auction for 2017 ended the year on a high note with a collection of top historical, modern and contemporary artworks.

A number of superb historic paintings came to auction, dating back to the late nineteenth century. Among them were works by Hugo Naudé, Anton Van Wouw, and Dorothy Kay. A fine collection of mid-twentieth century modern work by South Africa’s best-known artists at auction including Edoardo Villa, Maggie Laubser, Sydney Kumalo and Irma Stern were also on offer. The top lot by value was, however, a contemporary work. A superb drawing by world-renowned South African artist William Kentridge. Drawing from Mine (Soho with coffee plunger and cup) (1991), sold for R5 456 640, a record for a drawing by Kentridge in South Africa.


Thursday 9 November 2017 | 10 am – 5 pm
Friday 10 November 2017 | 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday 11 November 2017 | 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday 12 November 2017 | 10 am – 3 pm

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