Ngatane, Ephraim Mojalefa (1938–1971) By Stephenson, Jessica
Born in 1938 in Maseru, Lesotho (then Basutoland), South Africa, Ephraim Ngatane was a painter and jazz musician affiliated with the first generation of modern black South African artists of the 1950s and 1960s. He received art instruction in watercolor and oil painting at the Polly Street and Jubilee Centers where he later served as a teacher and developed major talents including Dumile Feni, Louis Maqhubela, and Ben Macala. Ngatane was a member of the “Weekend Painters” group initiated by Durant Shilahli. Through this affiliation he rejected the romantic expressionism advocated at Polly Street for a documentary realist approach. His later work incorporated religious symbolism and also moved into abstraction. Ngatane’s work served as a model for a generation of artists depicting African township life. In 1963 Ngatane held his first solo show at the Adler Fielding Gallery, Johannesburg. He continued to exhibit work actively until his untimely death at the age of 33. His work is featured in numerous public and private collections, including the Pretoria Art Museum, the William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberley, and the University of the Witwatersrand Collection, Johannesburg. Ngatane died in 1971 in Soweto, Johannesburg, Gauteng (then Transvaal), South Africa.