George Mnyalaza Milwa Pemba (South African, 1912-2001)
Mother and child signed and dated 'MMPemba/53' (upper right) oil on canvasboard 36 x 26cm (14 3/16 x 10 1/4in).
In 1941, George Pemba won a second bursary from the Bantu Welfare Trust, which allowed him to travel to Cape Town and study under Maurice van Essche. During his time in Cape Town, he met John Mohl and Gerard Sekoto. In 1944, Pemba secured a further grant from the Bantu Welfare Trust to make a Grand Tour of South Africa; he visited Johannesburg, Durban, rural Natal, Basutoland and Umtata and expressed particular interest in the indigenous cultures and tribal life of the different regions.
Pemba made many sketches during his travels, and on his return to the Eastern Cape he was newly inspired in his subject matter by his experiences. In 1948 Pemba held a successful solo exhibition in Port Elizabeth, which marked his decision to resign from formal employment to concentrate on his painting, and also shifted from painting primarily in watercolour to oil. This shift was prompted by the notion that white patrons paid more generously for oils and he was encouraged in this respect by Gerard Sekoto. It was during the early 1950s, when the current lot was painted, that Pemba mastered painting in oils.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Hudleston, Against All Odds George Pemba: His Life and Works, (Johannesburg, 1996)