Two Devotees Of The Human Figure, Pemba and Hodgins, Paired Up In Strauss & Co Exhibition

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Strauss & Co is pleased to announce details of a non-selling exhibition of works by two pioneering post-war artists, George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba (1912–2001) and Robert Hodgins (1920–2010), in its Johannesburg exhibition space. Titled Social Stances, the exhibition brings together an impressive array of works held in public and private collections nationally. The exhibition explores the two artists’ shared interest in the human figure and very different stances towards their society, the main source of inspiration for their art.

“This exhibition reassesses the work of both Pemba and Hodgins as essentially complex acts of creation, as both intellectual and emotional in origin,” says Wilhelm van Rensburg, Strauss & Co’s head curator and organizer of the exhibition. “The works are products of a disciplined knowledge of the skill of painting and the art of transforming life into art.”

 

Social Stances is the third in a series of on-going exhibitions organized by Strauss & Co exploring synergies between pairs of historical artists. The first exhibition, in 2019, paired Louis Maqhubela and Douglas Portway, and the second, in 2020, placed works by Gladys Mgudlandlu and Maggie Laubser in conversation. The exhibition will run throughout the month of July and is viewable in person by appointment only, as well as – more conveniently – online. The exhibition is accompanied by a downloadable e-catalogue featuring essays by Van Rensburg, Pemba specialist Sarah Hudleston and Hodgins expert Neil Dundas.

“Strauss & Co is committed to producing vibrant and relevant educational content as part of its social obligation to the arts sector,” says Susie Goodman, an executive director at Strauss & Co. “It is even more imperative that we support the arts in these difficult times and bring people together, albeit virtually, to engage and learn. The Pemba and Hodgins exhibition is a brilliant opportunity to access important works held in important collections around the country and show them to a wider audience.”

 

To optimise the experience of viewing this important historical exhibition, Strauss & Co is using Matterport, a powerful 3D platform that enables the online visualisation of physical spaces. The digital imaging tool provides for immersive encounters.

Strauss & Co is also convening an extensive online education programme:

  • Thursday, 1 July, 6pm: online panel discussion with Pemba specialist Sarah Hudleston and Hodgins expert Neil Dundas;
  • Thursday, 8 July, 6pm: online panel discussion with curator Koulla Xinisteris about the SABC Collection’s holdings of Pemba and Hodgins, with arts journalist Edward Tsumele;
  • Friday, 9 July, 4pm: Pre- and in-service art teacher workshop exploring how Pemba and Hodgins can be integrated into the school curriculum;
  • Monday, 19 July, 6pm: online discussion exploring the respective attitudes of Pemba and Hodgins to social issues, presented by Wilhelm van Rensburg

 

Strauss & Co will also be convening an in-person painting masterclass, conducted by contemporary painter Sipho Ndlovu, at its Johannesburg exhibition space on 24 July at 10am (date subject to changes in Covid restrictions). The workshop will explore realism in painting. Slots for this in-person workshop are limited and booking is essential. All Covid protocols will be observed.

The run of “Social Stances” will coincide with Strauss & Co’s live broadcast auction of modern, post-war and contemporary art on 11 and 12 July 2021. The mid-winter auction features six graphics by Hodgins, a tireless experimenter with the medium, and an early watercolour by Pemba depicting a young girl in a pensive mood (estimate R100 000 – 120 000). Painted in 1947 when the artist was 35, Pemba’s realist portrait leads a strong selection of works by contemporary figurative painters, among them Richard Mudariki, Nelson Makamo and Bambo Sibiya. Details of the auction and comprehensive lot information can be viewed on the Strauss & Co website.

 

About the artists:

George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba (1912-2001)

Born in Port Elizabeth on 2 April 1912, Milwa Mnyaluza ‘George’ Pemba developed an early love of drawing, encouraged by his parents. After winning a scholarship at the age of 16, Pemba worked hard developing his signature style, drawing portraits and depicting life around him. Under the apartheid regime, Pemba continued to practice his art, thanks, largely, to the support of his wife Eunice, who ran a spaza shop. In 1990, a major exhibition of Pemba works at the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg brought him national attention. He is renowned for his unembellished honesty, fine draftsmanship, expressive colour and strong sense of composition.

 

Robert Hodgins (1920-2010)

London-born Robert Hodgins immigrated to South Africa in 1938 and served in the Union Defence Force during WWII. After the war he studied art and education at Goldsmiths College, University of London, before returning to South Africa in 1954 to teach, first at the Pretoria Technical College School of Art, and then for nearly twenty years at the University of the Witwatersrand. He only became a full-time artist in the early 1980s when he was in his sixties. Hodgins mentored generations of artists, many of whom have achieved international recognition.

 

Exhibition details:

Venue: Strauss & Co gallery, Safika House, 89 Central Street, Houghton, Johannesburg, 2198

Dates:  Thursday 1 to Friday 30 July 2021

For more information about the exhibition, or about buying and selling art or having your collection valued, please contact Strauss & Co at (011) 728 8246 or jhb@straussart.co.za

www.straussart.co.za

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