The Surreal Sculptures and Paintings of Simphiwe Ndzube

by Andy SmithPosted on

“Bhabharosi” at Nicodim Gallery in Los Angeles is the first solo show from Simphiwe Ndzube outside Cape Town, South Africa, the artist’s hometown. The strange, headless and limbless figures that travel throughout the paintings and sculptures of Ndzube have their own mythology. Read about the lore below:

“Bhabharosi is an invented term given to the protagonist in this current body of paintings and sculpture,” the artist says. “It stems from the words ‘Barbarous’ and ‘Rose,’ combined and pronounced in isiXhosa, my home language. A Bhabharosi is one who embodies elements of beauty and hardship, one who has been rejected, disjointed, disfigured, and discarded after being used for his labour. He finds refuge and diversion by defiantly embodying sartorial elements of the Swenkas, the working-class Zulu men who participate in amateur competitions that are part fashion show and part choreography, the purpose of which is to display one’s style and sense of attitude. He has elements of the hero in Amos Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard, as well as the fat-bellied Pozzo and his slave, Lucky, from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. In Bhabharosi, the fantastical figure emerges, walking precariously on a surreal journey of recovery, finding his voice and feet, moving through patched open landscapes with transitory barricades or signs monitoring where and how far he can go.”

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