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George Mnyalaza Milwa Pemba (1912-2001)
George Mnyalaza Milwa Pemba (1912-2001)

The ones that are left

George Mnyalaza Milwa Pemba (1912-2001)
The ones that are left
signed and dated 'PEMBA / 63' (lower left)
oil on canvas-board
20 x 16in. (51 x 41cm.)
Anon. sale, Bonhams, London, 14 October 2009, lot 116 (£31,980).

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Lot Essay

This is one of Pemba's overtly expressive canvases from the years of struggle in the early 1960s (personal as well as political, with the death of his mother Rebecca in August 1963), with figures under a red sky bewailing the loss of a crucified and a hanged man in the tree beyond. A social realist of sorts, from the '30s generation of pioneer black artists, Pemba, although not politically motivated, worked through 'the most critical decades of South Africa's history under colonialism and apartheid.' (Hayden Proud in his obituary in the Cape Times, 24 July 2001) and his work reflects the times. 1963 was the year of the Rivonia trials which would deliver life sentences to the leaders of the armed struggle launched in 1961. Hanging was maintained following the instatement of a republic in 1961, and was the sentence meted out to anti-apartheid activists convicted of violent crimes.

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