André Fougeron, ‘Martyred Spain’ 1937
André Fougeron, Martyred Spain 1937 . Tate . © The estate of the André Fougeron

Room 3 in Artist and Society

Civil War

Untitled

Malangatana Ngwenya, Untitled  1967

This painting depicts the violence and suffering endured by ordinary people in Mozambique during the War of Independence from Portugal (1964–74) and was made while the conflict was still raging. Figures overlap, seemingly merging into one another and collapsing any sense of perspective, a reflection on the importance of community and social relationships, shown here in meltdown. Three years before painting this, the artist had been imprisoned for eighteen months by the Portuguese secret police for his involvement in FRELIMO (the Front for Liberation of Mozambique).

Gallery label, November 2015

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The Execution of Beloyannis

Peter de Francia, The Execution of Beloyannis  1953–4

© Estate of Peter de Francia

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Martyred Spain

André Fougeron, Martyred Spain  1937

The Spanish Civil War marked a crucial political turning-point in the 1930s. General Franco’s rebellion against the elected left-wing government was seen as part of the wider threat posed by Fascism across Europe. Fougeron was among many Frenchmen who considered volunteering to fight in support of the Spanish government, but decided instead to devote his art to the cause. In Martyred Spain, the decaying body of a horse and a raped woman symbolise the innocent victims of a country devastated by conflict.

Gallery label, November 2015

© The estate of the André Fougeron

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Cosmos and Disaster

David Alfaro Siqueiros, Cosmos and Disaster  c.1936

Cosmos and Disaster reflects Siqueiros’s technical experiments with paint thickened by grit and splinters. The pessimistic theme almost certainly echoes his response to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. While his earlier works were dominated by huge figures, and communicated strident political messages, the near-abstraction here seems to convey his despair. He soon volunteered for the International Brigade opposing Franco’s forces. Photographs of the obliterated landscapes of First World War trenches may have been a point of reference for the painting.

Gallery label, November 2015

© The estate of David Alfaro Siqueiros/DACS 2020

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Woman in Grief

Uzo Egonu, Woman in Grief  1968

T13897

Much of Egonu’s work from this period relates to the Biafran War (1967–70). Woman in Grief was painted in the same year as the two Battles of Onitsha in Nigeria. These were large-scale military conflicts between Biafran and Nigerian forces with high casualties on both sides. The events had particular significance for Egonu who was born in Onitsha. He left Nigeria at the age of thirteen to study in the United Kingdom. Deeply concerned for his family but without the means to return, he followed developments in Nigeria closely.

Gallery label, April 2019

© The estate of Uzo Egonu

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Art in this room

Untitled
Malangatana Ngwenya Untitled 1967
The Execution of Beloyannis
Peter de Francia The Execution of Beloyannis 1953–4
Martyred Spain
André Fougeron Martyred Spain 1937
Cosmos and Disaster
David Alfaro Siqueiros Cosmos and Disaster c.1936
Woman in Grief
Uzo Egonu Woman in Grief 1968