Wed, 14th Sep 2022 18:00

20th Century & Contemporary Art

 
  Lot 61
 
Lot 61 - Dumile Feni (South Africa 1939-1991)

61

Dumile Feni (South Africa 1939-1991)
Mother and baby

ink on paper

Artwork date: 1969
Signature details: signed, dated and inscribed 'Yoliswa, 68, Amos, Feni, Bebi'
Exhibited: Everard Read, Cape Town, 'OASIS: 25TH ANNIVERSARY GROUP EXHIBITION', 3 December to 31 December 2021.; Johannesburg Art Gallery, 'Dumile Feni Retrospective Exhibition', 31 January to 19 April 2005.
Literature: Dube, P. M. (2006). 'Dumile Feni Retrospective'. Johannesburg: Johannesburg Art Gallery, illustrated on p.102 where the title 'Woman and Baby Smoking' is given and the work is listed as undated and on p.6 where it was displayed at the 'Dumile Feni Retrospective' exhibition.

Sold for R967,300
Estimated at R900,000 - R1,200,000


Condition Report

The overall condition is good.

Creases throughout. Two folded creases across the top area. Slight tearing along the edges, especially along the top.

Tears measuring approximately from 150mm to 40mm. Staple holes along the top mid area. Tape residue along the top edge. Smudging throughout, especially along the top edge.

Floating onto backing mount. Not laid down. Not examined out of frame. Full report upon request. Professional restoration report upon 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.

 

ink on paper

Artwork date: 1969
Signature details: signed, dated and inscribed 'Yoliswa, 68, Amos, Feni, Bebi'
Exhibited: Everard Read, Cape Town, 'OASIS: 25TH ANNIVERSARY GROUP EXHIBITION', 3 December to 31 December 2021.; Johannesburg Art Gallery, 'Dumile Feni Retrospective Exhibition', 31 January to 19 April 2005.
Literature: Dube, P. M. (2006). 'Dumile Feni Retrospective'. Johannesburg: Johannesburg Art Gallery, illustrated on p.102 where the title 'Woman and Baby Smoking' is given and the work is listed as undated and on p.6 where it was displayed at the 'Dumile Feni Retrospective' exhibition.

(1)

200 x 76.5 cm; framed size: 212 x 88 x 6 cm

Provenance:

Private collection, Johannesburg.

Notes:

Dumile Feni’s signature style of provocative and emotive contorted figuration has enjoyed widespread, singular aesthetic influence on generations of creatives working in South Africa since the mid-1960s. What distinguishes Dumile’s work is the symmetrical combination of enviable artistic talent, and an interest in depicting the unspeakable suffering of blacks under apartheid. Prior to Dumile’s entry into the South African art world, this tension between the terrible and the beautiful was hardly explored so plainly and with such vigour. Even if he wasn’t the first to invent new ways of seeing the black experience, using commonplace references, Dumile calibrated more tormented and intensified ways of seeing the black condition. As art historian Frances Verstraete once noted, such art can be ‘politicised by subject alone, even if the aims of the artists involved were not specifically political.’[1]

Interestingly, the theme of mother and child portrayed in this pen-ink drawing aptly titled Mother and Baby – done in 1969, the year just after Dumile went into exile – adopts this subject-matter, not necessarily as a motif of art historical convention, but simply for its resonance with the artist’s upbringing and life experiences. However, this adoption deliberately betrays the basic tenets of the tradition largely predicated on preconceived Western theology of gender and maternity, and according to Verstaere, ‘becomes the image of pathos, a memory of a lost unity.’[2]

The drawing depicts a slightly emaciated nude woman whose unapologetic pose contrarily dignifis her. She is contemplating the lit cigarette in her left hand and pressing her right breast into the open mouth of her also unclothed child with her right hand. She’s paying no attention to the precariously positioned child clinging to her body. What might seem like a cynical commentary on the subject, has very personal resonance with the artist’s life as an orphan. Dumile lost his parents at a very young age. When his mother, Bettie Feni, died in 1951, the role of raising the young Dumile fell to his older sister, Nomakula ‘Kuli’ Mngxaji, to whom he often dedicated epistolary and poetic inscriptions at the edges of some of his well-known works. Kuli and Dumile would never see each other again after he went into exile in 1968. The inscriptions made on the drawing; Yoliswa. 68. Amos. Feni. Beti’, repeatedly memorialize his family – that is, his cousins, ancestors and his mother – some alive and others already passed away in 1969.

Athi Mongezeleli Joja

[1] Francis Verstraete, 1989. ‘Township Art: Context, Form and Meaning’, in African Art in Southern Africa: From Tradition to Township, eds, Anitra Nettleton & David Hammond Tooke. Johannesburg: Ad Donker, pp152–71.

[2] Ibid, 160.

Collections:

The artist is represented in numerous local collections, notably, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town.; Johannesburg Art Gallery.; De Beers Centenary Art Gallery, Alice.; University of Fort Hare, Alice.; Durban Art Gallery and Ann Bryant Art Gallery, East London.

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Auction: 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Wed, 14th Sep 2022

 

Aspire Art will impress collectors with this focused, boutique-style auction. Including 81 carefully selected lots the sale boasts impressive examples by many of South Africa’s most celebrated artists. A fine selection of William Kentridge works, including two original drawings, Eduardo Villa sculptures, painting by Robert Hodgins and Walter Battiss and a wonderful early Penny Siopis drawing are on offer.

Also featured are two special sections – Black Modernism and Photography. Aspire has firmly cemented itself as a champion of both these collecting segments and collectors will be spoilt for choice with a rare drawing by Dumile Feni as well as works by other modernists including Gerard Sekoto, George Pemba and Lucas Sithole and photographs by David Goldblatt, Mohau Modisakeng and Simphiwe Ndzube amongst others.

Viewing

The exhibition preview is open to the public.

Viewing is from Friday 9 to Wednesday 14 September.

Weekdays from 09h30 to 16h30, Saturdays from 09h30 to 14h00, and Sundays by appointment.

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IMPORTANT NOTICE:


 

Logistics

While we endeavour to assist our Clients as much as possible, we require artwork(s) to be delivered and/or collected from our premises by the Client. In instances where a Client is unable to deliver or collect artwork(s), Aspire staff is available to assist in this process by outsourcing the services to one of our preferred Service Providers. The cost for this will be for the Client’s account, with an additional Handling Fee of 15% charged on top of the Service Provider’s invoice.

Aspire Art provides inter-company transfer services for its Clients between Johannesburg and Cape Town branches. These are based on the size of the artwork(s), and charged as follows:

Small (≤60x90x10 cm): R400

Medium (≤90x120x15 cm): R800

Large (≤120x150x20 cm): R1,200

Over-size: Special quote

 

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Collection/delivery 20km>R800≤50km

Collection/delivery >50km: Special quote

 

Packaging

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For buyers from outside South Africa, we will keep the artworks you have purchased in storage during the year and then ship all the works you have acquired during the year together, so the shipping costs are reduced. At the end of the annual period, we will source various quotes to get you the best price, and ship all your artworks to your desired address at once.

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