Through painting, sculpture, and spatial intervention, Simphiwe Ndzube’s second solo exhibition with Nicodim is an introduction to the universe he calls “Echoes of the First Stories.” In the Order of Elephants After the Rain is a historical event within this universe that draws from socio-political events on the Mine Moon—a significant locale in his personal visual language, one not dissimilar from South Africa, Ndzube’s homeland.
The Mine Moon and its inhabitants emerge from the tradition of magical realism, and its cosmology expands along narrative influences from writers like Ben Okri, Franz Kafka, Haruki Murakami, Gabriel García Marquez, and Zakes Mda. Ndzube sees the tradition as “a mode suited to exploring—and transgressing—boundaries, whether the boundaries are ontological, political, geographical or generic. It facilitates the fusion, or coexistence, of possible worlds, spaces, systems that would be irreconcilable in other modes.”
With In the Order of Elephants After the Rain, Ndzube tells the story of the Mine Moon’s last remaining dam and the planet’s sole water source, which has been stolen from the moon’s native inhabitants by its colonizers, the Mungu people. The title is derived from an African saying that describes the movement of elephants after a storm following a period of drought: the giant animals gather in a parade and amble in procession down to a freshly renewed pool to drink, bathe, and play. The exhibition is an exploration of the Mine Moon’s inhabitants’ geopolitical, socioeconomic, and spiritual relationship to water, and its natives’ strength and search for higher purpose in times of cruelty and exploitation.
Simphiwe Ndzube (b. 1990, South Africa) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA and Cape Town, South Africa. He received his BFA from the Michaelis School of Fine Arts in 2015. Ndzube’s work is characterised by a fundamental interplay between objects, media and two-dimensional surfaces; stitching together a subjective account of the black experience in post-apartheid South Africa from a mythological persepective. Recent exhibitions include Where Water Comes Together With Other Water, The 15th Lyon Biennale, Lyon, France (2019); People, Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles, USA (2019); Uncharted Lands and Trackless Seas, Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa (2019, solo); Trans World, Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles, USA; Galeria Nicodim, Bucharest, Romania (2019); New Acquisitions, the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, USA (2018); Hacer Noche, Oaxaca, Mexico (2018); NOISE!, The Frans Hals Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2018); Waiting for Mulungu, The CC Foundation, Shanghai, China (2018, solo); Bharbarosi, Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles, USA (2017, solo); and Becoming, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town, South Africa (2016, solo).