31st Oct, 2021 11:00

Art, Life and Love: The Collection of Nwabisa Xayiya (Live Auction)

  Lot 17
Lot 17 - Ephraim Ngatane (South Africa 1938-1971)


Ephraim Ngatane (South Africa 1938-1971)
A Street vendor

oil on board

Artwork date: 1966
Signature details: signed and dated bottom left

Sold for R113,800
Estimated at R120,000 - R180,000


oil on board

Artwork date: 1966
Signature details: signed and dated bottom left


74 x 100.5 cm; framed size: 96 x 122 x 2.5 cm


Johans Borman Fine Art, Cape Town.


Ephraim Ngatane was born in 1938 in Lesotho and his family moved to Johannesburg in 1942 where he spent his formative years in Soweto. He was one of the early artists who trained at the famed Polly Street Art Centre, which produced some of the most recognised and celebrated black artists of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. Ngatane was a prolific artist, and during his short career (he passed away at age 32) he produced over 300 artworks, many of which are currently in important public and private collections.

In Street Vendor and The Family, created in 1966 and 1969 respectively, he showcases a continued use of figuration and abstraction in his work. The majority of his later paintings are oil on board, although on occasion he would combine oil and sand, layered with a palette knife to acquire a thick impasto which created a densely textured surface – a hallmark of the tactile and visual richness of his paintings.

In The Family, Ngatane depicts a family sitting for a portrait. The father is seated, while the mother stands and the children are in various poses, one of them on their father’s lap. Although their faces are abstracted, one can discern the smiles of bliss in gathering for a family portrait.

Ngatane’s work shows his interest in his immediate surroundings, referencing his own lived experience and personal narratives which were often rendered invisible by the disenfranchised in township life. In many of his paintings, the pulsating and exuberant life in the township can be seen and felt, confirming his documentation of everyday life, as indicated in Street Vendor (1966).

Ngatane is credited as being an influence in the career development of fellow artists including Dumile Feni, Ben Macala and Louis Maqhubela.

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Auction: Art, Life and Love: The Collection of Nwabisa Xayiya (Live Auction), 31st Oct, 2021

This October, 2021, we are honoured to present Art, Life and Love:  The Collection of Nwabisa Xayiya, a single owner auction showcasing the cultivated taste and style of Nwabisa Xayiya.

The auction offers examples by great modernists as well as exciting contemporary pieces. Notable is a selection of work by George Pemba. There is also a set of impressive urban scenes and portraits by Gerard Sekoto, a rarely seen Alexis Preller, a glorious Robert Hodgins, and varied examples of Dumile Feni’s work. Within the contemporary offering, there are outstanding works by Blessing Ngobeni, Sam Nhlengethwa, William Kentridge, Teresa Firmino, Athi-Patra Ruga, Kudzanai Chiurai, Nelson Makamo, Owusu-Ankomah and Nicholas Hlobo.


Lots will be on view at the Xayiya residence: 63 4th Street, Houghton, Johannesburg
Saturday 23 October to Saturday 30 October from 10 am to 6 pm

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