Greater LA host Steve Chiotakis and arts reporter Lindsay Preston-Zappas discuss Katherina Olschbaur's vivid and gender-twisting take on mythology in her solo exhibition at Nicodim, Los Angeles: Live Flesh.
At Nicodim LA, Jorge Peris’s “Desembarco en el País de Nunca Jamás” (Landing in Neverland) delivered peculiarities expected of an exhibition titled after Peter Pan’s island, sans sentimentality. Peris’s sculptural distortions of furniture and musical instruments, all of which seemed ready to spin out of control, captured the existential heartbreak encountered not in the nursery but at an estate sale. And what is that event but an epilogue to being all grown up?
In his first solo United States museum exhibition, South African artist Simphiwe Ndzube wove his own brand of magical realism with the iconography of “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by artist Hieronymous Bosch in a radical exploration of global water scarcity. The most unique hallmark of Ndzube’s work are figures that physically emerge from the canvas with strange limbs and sewn-on clothing. The choice troubles the space between real and imagined, sculpture and painting, but more importantly, it pushes the discomforts of the subject into the gallery, sharing air with the viewer. Today, Eden is wherever water springs.
Recalling the sounds of choir organs from his church-going childhood as well as moments in fashion, design and music, Devin Johnson creates archival images and paintings inspired by memory.
Mihai Nicodim, who opened his Los Angeles gallery in 2006 and a branch in his native Bucharest in 2012, has built a reputation for introducing challenging and sometimes gnarly-looking new art, with an initial focus on Eastern Europe. “We have an amazing group of young artists, most of whom have never shown in New York,” he says, mentioning Isabelle Albuquerque, Mosie Romney and Devin B. Johnson as examples.
Larry Madrigal’s paintings capture humorous moments taken directly from his own domestic life with a candor so unpretentious, it makes the viewer feel as though they are right inside his messy living room, kitchen or bedroom where silly accidents and slip-ups occur. He shares his life as a Latinx Gen Xer, a father and a husband in all its awkwardness without any filters or barriers, which makes his paintings very accessible and relatable.
The debut of Larry Madrigal’s most recent body of work at Nicodim Gallery secures him a position within a long tradition of allegorical painters that allow us to see how something unexpected can emerge just from picturing the world around us. Whether we think of Edward Hopper’s alienated figures, Eric Fischl’s images of suburban estrangement or Jenna Gribbon’s impromptu encounters, all of the above offer us a picture of more than just a moment in time. Madrigal’s work moves along similar lines but provides an entirely new twist on these ideas with the exhibition “How Dare We Now Live,” which is not a post-pandemic missive so much as a circumspect attempt to rehabilitate the genre picture within the world of contemporary art.
In Nicodim’s current exhibition, “My Heart Cries, I Set Out an Offering for You,” we see how loss and grief can manifest through paintings and sculptures from stellar young artist Devin B. Johnson.What we find in Johnson’s abstracted and ethereal paintings is not loss, but the echoes of loss. We witness the people who are still here and must meet that loss. Those who lay lilies at street corners. Those who come home to empty apartments or huddled families. Those who are haunted, as we all are, by one ghost or another. These representations of loss are more striking than others because they illustrate the subtle and quiet moments that come in its wake.
When visiting the artist Devin B. Johnson’s latest solo exhibition, My Heart Cries, I Set Out an Offering for You at Nicodim Gallery in Los Angeles, one is immediately drawn into the highly textured and enigmatic qualities of his latest work. Scenes of fleeting cityscapes, displaced and disembodied figures, and ineffable atmospheres are made tactile through rough yet luxuriant layers of paint on canvas.
SCI-Arc Channel tours the intricacies of Simphiwe Ndzube's studio and background, taking a close look at two of his recent exhibitions: Like the Snake that Fed the Chameleon at Nicodim Gallery and Oracles of the Pink Universe at the Denver Art Museum.
"Each sculpture is a performance of a different idea or set of ideas. Before beginning the fabrication of each piece, I work like a Butoh or Vogue dancer for many months searching for and rehearsing a particular form. I call this the “drawing” phase and it also includes a lot of self portraiture through photography . In this phase, I am looking for an unsolvable gesture." – Isabelle Albuquerque
Michiel Ceulers’ third solo exhibition with Nicodim considers the proverbial “canary in the coalmine” with new painting and sculpture. Forever employed as a harbinger of imminent danger, Ceulers concurrently examines the tiny avian as a sympathetic figure, a totem for the most fragile, the vulnerable, the first to disappear or be disappeared.
With sold-out exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, and Shanghai; museum curators buying up her works, which climb into six-figure pricing territory; and enthusiastic coverage from Vice to Juxtapoz to Bomb, Dominique Fung, who turns 34 this year, has established a career that would be the envy of artists decades her senior.
Devin B. Johnson is not afraid to explore the unknown and he doesn’t shy from the process of trial and error. Being fearless as an artist is the biggest gift and something you can’t acquire, you’ve either got it or you don’t, and Devin’s got it – he’s the real deal. In a scene full of repetitive conformist offerings, Devin shines. His paintings are reminiscent of the future; they hold history in them but at the same time are unusually ultramodern. With layers and layers of talent, his canvases are endless reflections of his storytelling. A master in the making. In this exclusive interview, Teeth chats to Devin about his practice, his creative process of making his pieces, and his upcoming show.
Working with the genre of narrative paintings, Phoenix-based artist Larry Madrigalshows us how the quotidian can often contain moments of intrigue, complexity and beauty. Originally hailing from Los Angeles, a large part of the Mexican-American's artist's current practice was influenced by the time he was catapulted into parenthood two weeks before he started his MFA program in 2017.
At Nicodim gallery, wooden sculptures overtake the space. Many are made from found tables, dressers, pianos, and armoires that Jorge Peris hodge-podges together into strange assemblages that defy gravity. This body of sculptures feels both historical and refreshing, as Peris breathes new life into found objects, imbuing them with purpose, levity, and poise.
Mosie Romney’s facility with color and composition perhaps gives even more force to the supernatural flights and otherworldly moments that frequent their paintings. Romney, a Jamaican American artist based in New York and newly represented by Nicodim, often portrays figures who have something more—multiple faces, wings—or whose environments slip into loosely geometric abstractions or wide washes that make for an ethereal figure-ground relationship.
Contrary to the high-pressure bustle typically associated with art fairs, Felix is festive and laid-back, facilitating interaction. This fair is “as much about community as it is commerce”, says gallery owner Mihai Nicodim, summarising its ambience as “a big party”. “I can sell art while smoking a cigarette in my bikini,” jokes Nicodim, whose cabana will feature pieces by seven artists, including a painting by Mosie Romney and sculpture by Jorge Peris.
“Dominique Fung’s compositions are at once haunting and enchanting, not to mention delicious!” says Agnes Lew. “I immediately fell in love with her depictions of food, but there’s a lot going on beneath the surface as well. Referencing art history movements globally, her paintings offer subtle, wry commentary on the way the West sees the East, and how she sees herself within this dichotomy.” Fung's works are influenced by Dunhuang frescoes on the Silk Road and other displaced objects from Asia in The Metropolitan Museum’s collection. She opens a two-person exhibition with Katherina Olschbaur this fall at Galeria Nicodim in Bucharest, and her second solo exhibition with Nicodim Los Angeles in February 2022.
"To have people experience something new and they are feeling like they may be more closer to their feelings and it maybe possibly will be their first visit to a museum after a long time, it's exciting for me. It's really a generous act on my part to give and I hope that people can receive."
Banhart is mainly an indie folk musician, though he has recently ventured into art, having just opened his first solo show at the Nicodim Gallery in downtown L.A. Labowe, a model, launched a line of hand-embroidered underwear during COVID-19 called Poppy Undies.
The most arresting thing about Edmondson’s installation is the unapologetic whimsy of his ceramic sculptures. Some artists have touched on this territory, (Niki de Saint-Phalle immediately comes to mind), but Edmondson’s circus retains the earthy brutalism that characterizes his previous work, and that makes for an interesting mix. In a sense he has weaponized fun, taking simple toy-like shapes and figures and making them monumental and immobile. Edmondson’s larger-than-life sculptures are more totem than toys, oversized reminders of childhood that are both playful and iconic.
A conversation about the art of telling stories with the South African artist Simphiwe Ndzube, who works between Cape Town and Los Angeles and whose first solo US museum exhibition opens this month at the Denver Art Museum, and the renowned writer Zakes Mda, whose novels are widely read throughout South Africa and beyond. The two dissect their magical realist stories of post-apartheid South Africa and their experiences of America on the page and on canvas—and try to locate the source of their own magic.
This episode is guest-hosted by Kyla McMillan, a director at David Zwirner.
Episode 67 features Mosie Romney (b. 1994, New York) They live and work in Ridgewood, Queens, New York. A Jamaican-American artist, they received their education from SUNY Purchase, obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Visual Arts in 2016. They have been an artist in residence at the Home School, Hudson in 2018. Exhibitions include Mosie Romney, Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles (3/25-May 1st 2021, solo); Evening Lark, Y2K Group, New York (2020, solo); PAPA RAGAZZE!, Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles (2020); Mosie Romney and Juan Guiterrez, Meredith Rosen Gallery, New York (2020); and Materia Prima, Gern en Regalia, New York (2019).
Dominique Fung talks about what spurred her to dive into sculpture making, the inspirations for her newest paintings, and answers questions about her solo exhibition It's Not Polite to Stare at Jeffrey Deitch, New York.
Through Fung’s exhibitions, the artist has shared a multitude of narratives surrounding her objects. In her current presentation at Jeffrey Deitch, they’re captured, contained, and displayed devoid of context—paralleling the canonical showcase of Chinese cultural and historical objects of unknown provenance in both art institutions and homes.
Fung’s bathing women are depicted as lifeless objects—more material than even the foo dogs beside the pool, more material than the rugs and the vases. They are depicted under a dehumanizing gaze. Fung’s new exhibition is another attempt—perhaps a more direct attempt—at flipping the orientalist script. Maybe this time, we’ll listen.
In this interview with Nika Chewich and Sara Frier, Los Angeles-based artist Isabelle Albuquerque mines the vast pyschosexual resources of her subconscious ancient mythos and art history for her deeply intimate sculptural odyssey: Orgy for 10 People in One Body.
Le Marteau sans maître, or The Masterless Hammer, Batoeva’s third exhibition with Nicodim, is a series of drawings and paintings which, like the Pierre Boulez composition and René Char poems that inspired them, celebrate the journey of a once-emancipated psychic dissonance occasionally reined into harmony. Recycled, Brobdingnagian frames from the 80s reincarnate to house a series of small-scale, improvisationally arranged drawings that evoke Matisse on a bender and provide blueprints for the paintings.
Larry Madrigal (Los Angeles, Estados Unidos, 1986) descubrió su gusto por la pintura de forma insconsciente, mirando un cuadro de un río mientras visitaba a su abuela en Colima, México, cuando era pequeño. Después de un breve paso por el graffiti, estudió bellas artes y se enamoró, definitivamente, de la pintura.
Banhart’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, The Grief I Have Caused You, a startling Cubist-meets-Surrealist amalgamation of works, features Banhart’s signature eclecticism, natural wit, and ambitious talent. We visited the gallery – ah, how we have missed in-person events – and had the chance to catch up with the artist himself, who took some time out to talk to us about NFTs, his love of staying home, and a possible obsession with the Loch Ness Monster.
I wanted to create something that was not in response to the male gaze. These works are from a matriarchal, mythological, and internal lineage. They’re coming from the gaze that emanates from inside the body and are less concerned with the gaze that looks onto the body.
A master storyteller, Nzdube creates an existential, otherworldly space where the ordinary becomes extraordinary. The work defies easy explanations, as mystery is piled on top of enigma. Each painting or sculpture shares a homemade, do-it-yourself aesthetic, with all seams made visible, as though haphazardly sewn, stitched, stapled, glued and pinned together in a hurry.
The multifaceted Ndzube melds together a mixture of media with this exhibit, from collage, sculpture, sound pieces, paintings and more. While the title sounds dark and menacing, the works contain bright pops of color, unlike others that have highlighted drought and desolation.
Many of Devendra’s works in this show liken bodies and figures to empty vessels that fill with emotion and can be let in or out. The use of a torso here gives the viewer a guttural feeling of the guilt of grief felt and perpetuated. In a separate interview, Devendra says of the work, “I thought a lot about how much grief I’ve caused others through my carelessness, selfishness, and unconsciousness—how awful it is to know I’ve caused someone grief, and how awful it is to feel grief that others have caused me.”
All fantasy, all good theater, requires some suspension of disbelief, a surrender to the moment. Total acceptance of what lies before us is what gives works of art their undeniable power. Isabelle Albuquerque’s work induces that suspension of disbelief, conjuring meaning from metaphor, innuendo, and metamorphosis. All of these phenomena come to the fore in a series of figures that manipulate and reconfigure reality.
Viewers come face-to-face with the depth of each of the multimedia paintings that are as layered as the artist’s meticulous intent. Deeply influenced by music, the tumultuous streets of New York, and a universe of self exploration and intention, the effect is a spellbinding composition. The Pratt Institute graduate, and New York-based artist is quickly gaining international praise through his representation at Nicodim Gallery, LA & Bucharest, and we are eager to see what he will uncover in future creations.
The exhibition is rooted in the artist’s study of Chöd Buddhism and the practice of offering up one’s entire body. The painting “The Kiss” (2021) implies a fragmented affinity with the self, a fleshy, double-orificed face folded inwards. Banhart plays with repulsion, figures turning themselves inside out until the body is defamiliarized.
Devendra Banhart’s strange and wonderful exhibition of recent paintings and drawings at Nicodim Gallery in downtown Los Angeles is a rogue’s gallery of surrealist avatars, a pageant of intimately scaled works awash in playful, mischievous mystery.
“Just like making a record, my paintings and drawings—half of them are characters, half of it is made up and just trying to be self-referential while not exactly being me. Some of it has nothing to do with me or baring my soul, and some of it is extremely intimate. Most of the paintings are just me trying to crack myself up. I’m so horrified and depressed. I have to paint disco bears over the ocean just to cheer myself up.” – Devendra Banhart
Devendra Banhart is an internationally renowned musician and visual artist, considered a pioneer of the “freak folk” and “New Weird America” movements. Curator connected with Banhart on the occasion of The Grief I Have Caused You, his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles at Nicodim Gallery.
"I think a lot of times throughout art history, especially with women’s bodies, the desire is projected onto the object or body, but I’m really interested in the kind of desire that projects outwards from inside the body. I think this is related to what some medieval saints and mystics referred to as the inner eye. I love all gazes, I’m not against the male gaze, but this particular emanation of desire is not about that, it’s a different kind of gaze that comes from within. It’s a gaze that’s mythological, matriarchal, and personal. It’s a gaze that reaches from inside and directs itself outward."
The result of this highly self-reflective and personal healing work takes shape as abstracted forms and shapes that are completely at peace in their absurdism. Eyes float in a non-hierarchical structure and objects like shoes and balls are woven within curved shapes and deep blues and purples. For an exhibition exploring grief during a time of despair, the work is joyously balanced, embracing grotesque figurations of comedy and tragedy.
The Venezuelan-American musician-painter and the South African multimedia artist talk about their upbringings, inspirations, and making art with a sense of humor in this interview with Michael Slenske.
Simphiwe Ndzube talks about his childhood growing up in South Africa and how as an artist he uses his Magical Realist style to blend past experiences with fantasy. Ndzube talks about following his inner child as an intuitive guide to his art making which blends sculpture, painting, and assemblage. Ndzube discusses art-making as a tool for unpacking traumas, and how he uses his own practice to process past experiences.
Ndzube reimagines Black bodies as mythical beings capable of inhabiting multiple dimensions. His pieces tend to blend found objects, paintings, sculptures, and textiles in vibrant colors.
South African-born artist Simphiwe Ndzube has garnered attention with his hybrid works that fuse painting, sculpture, and found objects, depicting a surreal world of fantastical Black bodies. The artist has crafted a field of corn stalks branching out from the hanging installation into the gallery space filled with his signature figurative works.
Mosie Romney’s oil and spray paint self-portrait Multiple Selves (2020) offers a challenge to the bio-determinist narrative present in the show’s framing and in our culture at large. In it, Romney is depicted with four faces—three on their head, and one held in their hand. Each face is androgynous and ageless, the self-portrait morphic and decisively obfuscating.
If the expressive analogies may seem similar, the underground elements in Pitín are perhaps more complex than they are in the reality we live today. Information and meanings come together, overlap, hiding and then returning to the light. Impulses that emerge from all sides, to disappear and reappear more insistent and finally populate architectural scenes that are now more real and known.
The paintings of Larry Madrigal reflect our daily obligations, struggles and pleasures in a nearly absurde and comedic way. We’ve seen a lot of pictures of life like moments. His paintings however present a different point of view and a intricate care for detail that instantly rises ones attention.
Los Angeles gallery Nicodim now represents Brooklyn-based painter Mosie Romney, who will have a show at the gallery later this year. Romney’s canvases play at the intersection of figuration, abstraction, and collage, often depicting a lone figure amid a surreal background. Previous exhibitions to include their work are “Mosie Romney and Juan Guiterrez” at Meredith Rosen Gallery in New York and “Evening Lark” at Y2K Group in New York, both in 2020.
Headless and naked, standing up or lying down, on all fours or spread-eagled, all of these works were incarnations of an orgiastic multitude... Albuquerque’s avatars, though humorous, are nonetheless tinged by a real violence that seems to be perpetually lurking in the shadows. After careers as a dancer, musician, and designer, the artist—in her solo debut as a visual artist—offers up a compelling meditation on the nature of being, the possibilities of pleasure, and the difficult process of trying to understand the throngs, lost and found, who inhabit every single one of us.
Toward the end of the Anthropocene, a perfect virus forced humans to physically isolate themselves from one another. While fires scorched the earth and hurricanes and rising temperatures flattened and flooded it, the dominant species instead focused inward.
Johnson’s sculptures and textural paintings carry spirits and energies through space. The abstract figures are fragmented and intertwining with the environment. There are brushstrokes revealing a variety of speeds. Bricks, drips and splatters meet hints of floral pattern. “I’m a daydreamer. I’m a Pisces. I’m emotional, sensitive and intuitive.”
Ndzube’s work is like a kaleidoscope in which harsh reality enmeshes with hallucination and worlds weave in and out of each other, fantastic color exploding at their intersections. At once flamboyant and mystical, his practice is populated by evanescent figures that sprawl out in his paintings and strut through his exhibitions as sculptures.
Ceulers’ sculptural, Rube Goldberg-ian mousetraps would be comically cruel if they were functional in the least; they become relics of extinct belief structures in their immediate obsolescence.
The Cut spoke with Devin B. Johnson about being in Senegal during the pandemic, making music, and his studio snow pants.
Georgina Gratrix’s figures and still-lifes have a gloopy impasto paint application. The faces of her figures ride a line between comical and slightly disturbing. Swabs of thick paint fold into disfigured personhood: melting noses, multiple sets of eyes, large textural gashes across cheeks. Some even have googly eyes embedded in the thick paint. Many of the paintings are intimate self-portraits or paintings of loved ones, but unlikely celebrities, politicians, and athletes including Scottie Pippen — appear in the mix.
In her new studio, one work-in-progress which Fung is finishing for ART021 in Shanghai, depicts a life-size, Qianlong-period, floral double-gourd vase transforming into a lounging figure. An entanglement of limbs holds out a knife and slashes a sliver from its own midsection. While uncanny and violent, the view appears almost sensual in its revelation of flesh within a porcelain vessel.
Based on fantasy but also including local African legends, national history, its cast of flamboyant characters helps Ndzube explore themes of power, conflict, exploitation, and occupation, by placing them in both violent and humorous scenarios.
Each piece in the show is exciting, gorgeous and worthy of the unhurried, spiritual attention one would pay at an altar. Albuquerque presents headless totems of feelings, not imprisoned in memory, or choked by the ego’s self-consciousness, but poised, reclining, spread on all fours, ready for the full experience.
Going to Nicodim Gallery to see the solo exhibition of South African artist Georgina Gratrix (b. 1982), I didn’t expect to admire and giggle at her heavy impasto paintings, that grabbed my attention with its bursting energy. None of the people the artist chose to portray look attractive or smart, instead they’re caricatures of themselves. They come across as cheeky, playful and surprisingly charming portraits of possibly Georgina Gratrix’s friends and family?!
With hyperreal sculptures made from headless casts of the artist, the show explored the fleeting and embodied natures of emotion, sexuality and social experience.
There’s something very fresh about the way Phoenix, Arizona-based Mexican-American artist Larry Madrigal elevates that which is commonplace. He freezes onto the canvas not mere objects but little narratives, a style that renders his work particularly delightful.
"As a woman, you are always multiple personalities; you learn how to live in the world: to adapt, to define, to give, to take, and to demand." - Katherina Olschbaur
Purple presents images by Dana Boulos of Sextet, Isabelle Albuquerque’s first solo exhibition with Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles.
London-based artist Hugo Wilson works with drawing, painting and sculpture, combining images and techniques from Old Masters with contemporary references to create dynamic, layered artworks. LUX contributing editor Maryam Eisler visits his studio to photograph him and discuss refining his practice, creativity in lockdown and finding artistic freedom.
Seated across from me in her lofted MacArthur Park studio on a swampy summer Sunday in late August, Isabelle Albuquerque wears a black ball cap emblazoned with the slogan: “When Attitude Becomes Form.” It might as well be the mantra for her rocket-fueled sculpture practice, which only began in earnest a year ago, but will be the subject of a solo debut, Sextet, now open at downtown’s ascendant Nicodim Gallery.
The Romanian Cultural Institute New York's current online arts series brings you the hotspots of Romania’s contemporary visual arts scene and some of the most talked-about artists' shows through 7 virtual gallery tours introduced by well establish curators and artists.
Simphiwe Ndzube’s vivid scenes — painting, sculpture, assemblage, and installation—realize figurative forms as protrusions from colorfully uncanny landscapes. Bright and immediately involving, the commanding playfulness of his compositions serve an intensity that renders history’s hallucination of the human as a creaturely deformation of territory and affective possibility. In this studio visit, Ndzube reflects on the decolonial imperative of the South African art scene that nurtured and educated him, his relation to houseless residents of LA, and his recent fascination with tongues and umbrellas.
They say a dancer’s instrument is their body. But when a movement artist moves into the world of sculpture, that can become truer than ever. Isabelle Albuquerque is on that journey now, transmogrifying her background in performance, music, and artificial intelligence/tech into dimensional objects that in a sense, continue to perform.
"There is often a dark underlying tone in my work, but I seek to transform this darkness into pleasure. I am interested in concepts of devotion, submission, adoration and worship in a broader sense, but also in human relationships. How can ecstasy, desire, piousness and sadistic or submissive impulses be translated into a visual experience?" – Katherina Olschbaur
In the Spring/Summer 2020 Issue of AUTRE, Arthur Jafa and Isabelle Albuquerque discuss Black culture, bad whiteness, and why the edge is bleeding. Other topics of conversation include Jafa's "Love is the Message, the Message is Death" (2016), scored by Kanye West, and Jafa's follow-up project The White Album (2018), as well as Isabelle Albuquerque's matriachal upbringing and sculptural developments.
Simphiwe Ndzube calls his fictitious world—that he uses as a vehicle of truth—the “Mine Moon”. It isn’t escapist, rather it is supposed to facilitate a deeper immersion in reality. The Mine Moon is fantasy, local African legends and national history all in one. It explores themes of power, conflict, exploitation and occupation through instances of violence and humour. The storytelling oscillates between joy and hopelessness.
"I really enjoyed a trio of small works on paper by L.A. painter Devin B. Johnson, featuring a moody trio of Black figures with inscrutable gazes, made up of deftly applied swathes and splatters of paint."
In her exhibition at Nicodim Gallery, Fung explored the limits of museums as disseminators of knowledge. "Through the Looking Glass" (2020) takes its name from the Met's 2015 exhibition "China: Through the Looking Glass," curated by Andrew Bolton. While it achieved record-breaking attendance at the time, the exhibition was highly controversial for what critics say celebrated Western designers' appropriation of Chinese culture -- to produce chinoiserie fashions.
In Relics and Remains, Fung’s portraits reframe East Asiatic femininity, prompting the viewer to interrogate the tropes of Orientalism. Her work provides respite from the exhausting emptiness of the cult of authenticity.
Created in New York during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fung’s most recent works grapple with themes of Orientalism and Asiatic femininity in somber tones, enticing her audience with ominous surrealism, rather than playful fantasies.
Dominique Fung: Relics and Remains at Nicodim Gallery is an impressive series of oil paintings in which the artist addresses not only her personal Chinese heritage as a first-generation Canadian, but the way in which tradition, immigration, feminism, and art history play into that self-exploration.
In this interview with Dessane Lopez Cassell, Mosie discusses their time as an archivist at the Studio Museum in Harlem, queerness, community, and celebrating 2020's LBGTQ Pride Month in quarantine.
Dominique Fung’s exhibition at Nicodim was a particular joy after long weeks of viewing art digitally. Her paintings are an uncanny blend of figuration, abstraction, and surrealist objects that merge together in harmonious locomotion across the canvas.
"I believe that things cannot remain unchanged, it is not possible that this true earthquake of proportions will not remain without consequences, in all the planes of our life. So art will also change." – Teodor Graur
Dominique Fung's newest solo show, Relics & Remains, with Nicodim Gallery in Los Angeles, is a dense and beautiful showcase that fully realizes Fung's vision as a painter.
Artists Simphiwe Ndzube, Moffat Takadiwa, and Zhou Yilun have each released major, never before seen works that are so moving, so autoerotic, that—for the safety of the public—they are installed, locked away from the citizenry, sealed within the gallery, disinfected, and only viewable online.
The tapestries, part of an exhibition, Son of the Soil by Zimbabwean artist, Moffat Takadiwa, include pieces such as Land of Coca Cola and Colgate, The Green-Gold andOccupation of Land. They are so mesmerising that the hefty topics they examine—land ownership and consumer culture—almost come as a shock. Looking at the draperies is like gazing back at Earth from the uppermost atmosphere. But go closer, much closer, and you soon realise all is not as it seems.
"I’m learning to walk on my hands and feet, so to speak. I think that we all are." Mirroring the vibrant imagination that springs from his work, Ndzube expresses a poetic view of the situation. "I’m feeling a new connection with the body; I’m learning to actually feel it—the body, the heart, breathing, stillness."
Born in 1978, and educated in Cluj-Napoca from 1996-2001, Serban Savu is one of the better-known representatives of recent Romanian art, as well as arguably among the most talented. Savu’s impressive figuration blinds us to various manipulations. His technique of isolating figures within wide expanses of land or cityscape creates dramatic compositions powerfully at odds with the mundanity of his subject matter. In a continual elision of past and present, he transforms all manifestations of the utilitarian and ordinary into moments that surpass the sum of their parts.
Noua expozitie creata de Razvan Boar in timpul pandemiei exista ca un intreg scindat in doua camere care reprezinta doua taramuri de constiinta.
Simphiwe Ndzube’s work stitches together a subjective account of the black experience in post-apartheid South Africa from a mythological perspective - Join as Shelley Holcumb from Curate LA and Simphiwe go live to discuss his works in 'INXS: NEVER BEFORE SEEN MAJOR WORKS BY SIMPHIWE NDZUBE, MOFFAT TAKADIWA, ZHOU YILUN.'
Gallerist Mihai Nicodim of Nicodim Gallery walks Gallery Platform LA through his property while sharing stories of risk-taking, bringing Eastern European art to Los Angeles, and the beginnings of Nicodim in Chinatown.
Within this resurgent Surrealism is work that explores body-object confusion, found within the works of Katherina Olschbaur and Robin Williams. This is a skin of replacement, that reflects its material surroundings back towards the space it inhabits, confusing the delineation of subject and object and the space it occupies.
In Los Angeles, several galleries have independently organized and created their own marketing website, galleryplatform.la. They have also formed a group, Gallery Association Los Angeles (GALA for short), with plans to continue long-term as the only citywide art dealers’ association.
Katherina Olschbaur’s painted figures exist in a state of constant flux. Refusing to settle in a singular, fixed body, they flit between sexes, gender presentations, human, animal and pre-human forms. In her recent exhibitions, ‘The Divine Hermaphrodite’ and ‘Horses’, the haunches of bulls and horses become human feet fitted into too-small, cloven heels; voluptuous, horned beasts pose in thigh-high fetish boots; muscular thighs and calves bend and stretch, attached to broad-shouldered, breasted torsos and equine heads. Human dominates animal and animal dominates human in an erotic performance of evolutionary metamorphosis.
With newfound time on our hands, there's no better moment to discover a new artist. Second generation Chinese-Canadian artist Dominique Fung takes the often problematic depictions of the East in Western art—think Henri Rousseau and Jéan Léon Gérôme and their exoticized paintings of far away lands—and reconfigures them through her own lens. Drawing on Orientalist ideologies and artefacts, she dismantles and reframes them within warm, luscious and surreal landscapes.
What to Know: Johnson’s work at the fair is a continuation of the series he began with “Melody of a Memory,” his first exhibition with Nicodim, on view in Los Angeles through March 21. His works are made from a pulsing mix of spray paint, acrylic, and oil sticks.
In the latest instalment of the ACS 'Artist Spotlight' series, they talk to multidisciplinary London-based artist Hugo Wilson about his practice. Wilson works across a range of media including painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking, exploring issues of faith and belief and the associated structures of power. The artist's interests are wide-ranging, encompassing science, religion and culture, systems of classification, history and memory.
In November of 2019, The CAD spent the day with Simphiwe Ndzube in his LA studio. In this video Simphiwe talks about his creative process and inspiration while he continues to work on some of his new paintings.
Smashed between adult star Sasha Grey, filmmaker-artist Miranda July, and underground legend Ian Svenonius in the space of Wolfgang Pucks’ original Spago on the Sunset Strip, a weird claustrophobia set in. So I skipped outside to watch magickian-artist Brian Butler, sword in hand, hollering Luciferean incantations in a bloodred glow as the moon rose above him. I half-expected a demon to leap from the Hollywood sign and eat us all in a single, wet gulp.
Not a Fair, but… Hollywood Babylon: A Re-Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome is the grooviest of the satellite projects in town this week. A joint production of Jeffrey Deitch Gallery, Nicodim Gallery, and Autre Magazine, the project is a group exhibition dedicated to the legacy of avant-garde occultism in Los Angeles in all its sexy, stylish glory.
Featuring a dramatic play of light and shadow, Devin B. Johnson’s surreal portraits are based on digital collages that blend historical and personal images. The artist, who is one of the inaugural residents at Kehinde Wiley’s Black Rock Senegal residency, created the show almost as if it were a concept album, imagining each painting as its own love song.
With some help from Nicodim and Jeffrey Deitch Gallery, Ritchie Handler and Co. have transformed BADD House into a veritable house of ill repute for Hollywood Babylon: A Re-Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, a multimedia group exhibition, which will be open to the public for the duration of Frieze Week following tonight’s private opening party.
Jeffrey Deitch and Nicodim galleries will co-curate “Hollywood Babylon: A Re-Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome,” an art show inspired by the experimental filmmaker and author Kenneth Anger in the former Spago restaurant space in West Hollywood.
Olschbaur and Unzicker, the latter, associate director and curator at UC Irvine, soon began working on the exhibition Dirty Elements, which would draw on themes from classical artworks, while transforming these pieces into what she calls “sensual spaces of erotic delight.” The exhibition, featuring eight large oils by the artist, opened in January at UC Irvine’s University Art Gallery, with several paintings deriving inspiration from mythology, religious and historical artworks.
Jay-Z in front of “The Tengwe Farms” (2019), by Moffat Takadiwa, at the Roc Nation offices in Los Angeles in January. Photo credit: Renell Medrano for The New York Times
Second generation Chinese-Canadian painter Dominique Fung collects these problematic notions and recasts them through her own lens, refiguring art history to give her subjects real agency. Her work is luscious, refined and inviting. Warmly lit, melodically composed and exuding sensual energy, Fung’s paintings don’t appear critical at first glance, but upon closer inspection, her subjects protest, laugh and make absurd gestures, posturing themselves politically in Fung’s world.
Simphiwe Ndzube's art leads the spectator on a powerful journey of creativity and imagination, where he's invited to explore themes and tradition of Ndzube’s culture. Historical, social and political events of South Africa emerge with strong and energetic language, defining his entire practice, from painting to sculpture and installation. In his works, the artist draws from different aspects of African history and infuses them with magical elements and legends.
Imagine a faceless orgy, a concupiscence of bodies – colliding, embracing, penetrating, wherein the entirety of the surrounding picture plane is reduced to a senseless expanse of writhing and roiling flesh. In Philipp Kremer’s work, the notion of desire is determined by an exploration into genderless ideation.
Dominique Fung‘s paintings are a splendor for the senses. Drawing influence from her Chinese background, Fung turns centuries old tropes on their head to make statements about modern day life as a woman. Full of rich color and a visual exuberance, Fung’s works evoke a classical essence while making their own original mark.
Franchise editor Kirsten Chen meets artist Zhou Yilun in his studio outside of Hangzhou, China to get the story behind his unique works.
Produced by Vanity Fair with Genesis. South African artist Simphiwe Ndzube takes Vanity Fair and Genesis through his day in Los Angeles, sharing his unique creative process and the inspiration behind some of his most distinctive work.
South African artist Simphiwe Ndzube’s exciting portraits often depict figures in motion against a backdrop of theatrical landscapes. While Ndzube’s characters may analyse the new worlds in which they find themselves, identifying conventions and discerning what is acceptable, they also openly disregard the usual rules of power, class, and arrival.
Goldman discusses the dramatic experience of visiting the CMATO's exhibition Empathy: Beneath the Surface, which was inspired by the twin tragedies that hit Thousand Oaks last year in early November – the mass shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill, followed by the massive Woolsey Fire the next day. “At the heart of this exhibition is empathy and the universal truths we share as humans, as only art can reveal to us.”
Caps, lids, toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, rings and everyday objects with a more than ephemeral life - from a disposable perspective - become part of elaborate compositions that recall the artisan tradition. Every piece, every infinitesimal waste, recovered from immense mountains in landfills, is the bearer of a story, of a responsibility, often told by a printed name, by a brand, from a source. The theme of reuse and recovery, present in the production of numerous artists, in these works takes on particular value precisely because of the multiplicity of readings they offer and the extraordinary link with the origins, in a complex path that manages to bring out a profound dimension cultural.
Moffat Takadiwa considers the intricate wall-hangings that he stitches together from old computer keys or used toothbrush heads ‘post-colonial African Dada’; these abstract tapestries of waste confront Western viewers with the ugly fallout from their late-capitalist lifestyles, giving them the opportunity to buy it back, now redeemed through beauty.
Takadiwa rarely anthropomorphizes his clusters of shapes, rather the human presence is evoked through the materials and the volume of waste generated, as if to say, I am making a collective portrait without defining an individual. The impact of Takadiwa’s forms is undeniable. The pieces resonate visually as well as conceptually as they are rooted in Zimbabwean history and hardship, but they also celebrate the possibilities of making something lasting and positive out of the ever-growing mass of global waste.
Making an auspicious start, Nicodim features Moffat Takadiwa for their first show in the new building. From afar, Takadiwa’s wall hangings might be confused for textiles, as glamorous and over the top as any Bob Mackie beaded gown. They are woven and drape under the weight of their components but instead of luxurious fabrics, they are like colorful chain mail for our modern times.
Greater LA host Steve Chiotakis speaks with CARLA Editor-in-Chief Lindsay Preston-Zappas about Moffat Takadiwa's Los Angeles solo show. "A lot of America's trash and plastic recyclables end up in landfills of poorer nations, like Malaysia, India, and South Africa. Harare houses one of the largest landfills in Zimbabwe. Artist Moffat Takadiwa lives there. Takadiwa mines landfills for plastic trash. Much of it contains labels and logos of American brands. He then meticulously sorts and weaves together the found bottle caps, toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, and keyboard keys into elaborate tapestries."
Artist Moffat Takadiwa, who lives in Harare, Zimbabwe—a city that houses one of the largest landfills in the country—mines landfills for plastic trash, much of which contains labels and logos of American brands. He then meticulously sorts and weaves together the found bottle caps, toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, and keyboard keys into elaborate tapestries. Not only will you leave this show delighting in the stunning compositions and arrangements of these labor-intensive sculptural works, but you will also reconsider your own relationship to consumerism and plastic waste.
Downtown itself has more than one ecosystem, and tonight they’re all activated. Amidst a plethora of art openings this first week of September, exuberant found-material assemblage tapestries by Moffat Takadiwa activate Nicodim Gallery’s inaugural show in their brand new space on Santa Fe Avenue.
Through her work, South African-based Mexican-born artist Georgina Gratrix brings an ironic perspective and criticism of everyday life issues.
In this intimate conversation with LC, Hortensia Mi Kafchin (b. 1986, Galati, Romania) explains how most of her paintings can be read like a journal. The information she absorbs from art history, philosophy, science fiction, conspiracy theories, and popular culture, mixes with childhood memories from Romania, as well as with her dreams and fears. She talks about how a near-death experience shifted her entire worldview, and how her recent transition from male to female inspires her to explore internalized issues related to her gender, and her relationships to God, time, and death. She describes these experiences among others, to elucidate some of the meanings behind the reoccurring elements in her paintings.
Katherina Olschbaur, in an interview by PARNASS Kunstmagazin, discusses the inspiration for her recent series of paintings, her feelings about living in Los Angeles, and the influence of the political in her works. "I move around the edges. I create a narrative, and then I destroy it again," explains Olschbaur. She is currently for nominated for this year's Cardinal King Art Prize.
Nicodim Gallery in Los Angeles, which has been located in Boyle Heights since 2009, is moving to a new location downtown at 1700 South Santa Fe Avenue. The new space measures 10,000 square feet on the building’s ground floor, and its located just next to Susanne Vielmetter’s newly expanded home. The new location will open September 7 with Zimbabwe-based artist Moffat Takadiwa’s first U.S. solo exhibition. The gallery’s roster also includes Adrian Ghenie, John Duncan, Cristian Raduta, and others.
While mercury is currently in retrograde and our world seems to be quite literally falling apart, Trans World offers the beacon of hope we are so desperately yearning for. Curated by Ben Lee Ritchie Handler and Jorge Luis Cruzata, Trans World uses the multiverse theory as its platform to implore visitors to become critically conscious of themselves. A metaphysical exploration of self identity, Trans World will change the way you examine yourself and your surroundings. Be able to experience the magic that resides within Trans World and simultaneously go to your favorite type of party. Break out your PJ salvage matching set because Trans World is hosting a Pajama party with Tarot Readings by Lisa Anne Auerbach and a screening of Marie Losier’s The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (2011).
Dutch media theorist and Internet critic Geert Lovink and curator Aaron Moulton explore ideas of influence, revolution, colonialism, and cultural exorcism in Eastern Europe's cultural field on the occasion of the exhibition The Influencing Machine at Galeria Nicodim in Bucharest. The show, curated by Moulton, was an anthropological investigation into the macroview of the Soros Center for Contemporary Art (SCCA), an unprecedented network of art centers that existed across twenty Eastern European capitals throughout the 1990s.
Dominique Fung’s series of vase paintings exemplifies this seamless alchemy of ornamentalism: her vessels wear Chinese dresses and bows, their curved forms transforming them into hybrids—Asiatic women-objects. “It’s my way of reclaiming space that feels like it’s been taken away from me,” Fung says.
Cutting the book’s spine and disemboweling its contents, Mureșan takes us within a disorder of the book’s individual page spreads. The disintegration of the entire publication into this constellation of sixty floating compositions. It creates a spatial experience of objects disjointed from their context as props in a linear historical narrative.
Pollution has clogged all of our pores. Radiations of all kinds traumatize our tissues. Chemtrails. Will nature survive this new culture? Will any bit of humanity survive these transformations? What will the humanoids of the future look like?
"The LA art scene is dead; love live the LA art scene!"
ART Radio interviews Simphiwe Ndzube on his life and practice. "Ndzube is a reminder that Africa is not merely a landfill for a wasted imagination, defunct ideals or ruined fantasies, but a thriving and talismanic force field for a further circulation and recycling of a now further-transmogrified waste."
In Mi Kafchin’s canvases, compositional tension is built between the push and pull of brutalist architectural splendor and feral, radioactive nature; while narrative dimensions unfold with the inscrutable mythology of post-Soviet displacement, disinformation and conspiracy, randomness and rebellion.
In “Chemtrails,” Kafchin visually represents her incessant internal escapades, which attempt to process how radioactive toxins from Chernobyl and other infiltrating forces altered her body and mind. Kafchin boldly evokes surreal and not popularly acknowledged concepts. Her work illuminates the frightening realization that in the grand scheme of things, we have little agency in controlling that which we don’t fully know—and as Kafchin illustrates, it’s quite a lot.
The conversation [transcribed] is from a panel discussion between Aaron Moulton (director of Nicodim Gallery, Bucharest), Luchezar Boyadjiev (visual artist), Călin Dan (director of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest, and an artist belonging to the group subREAL), and Geert Lovink (media theorist, critic, and founding director of the Institute of Network Cultures). The panel focused on the program developed by the Soros Centers for Contemporary Art (SCCA) network and its major role in the modernization of artistic discourse in the former socialist countries and the republics of the former USSR.
"Despite their playful affectation, Răduță’s bestial bricolages are more humanly bizarre than garden-variety toys, often bearing blatantly anthropomorphic or monstrous features. A sinking feeling develops as you realize that your surrounding rascals are not innocuous creatures, but chimerical freaks." – Annabel Osberg
Los Angeles is a multi-verse. There are countless routes to take, places to go, and artists to watch, which can make the entire experience of visiting or living in the city a little overwhelming. Born in Cape Town in 1990, Ndzube often addresses life in the country after Apartheid, but with a surreal narrative structure. His pieces are large-scale, mixed-media collages, featuring grotesque, headless figures in banal clothes sprouting arms, light bulbs, and traffic cones out of their necks while slumping around colorfully abstract dreamscapes. Often, the figures become three-dimensional and the cones and clothes are made from found objects.
“There’s a lot of energy now in downtown,” according to Culver City gallerist Susanne Vielmetter. Part of that energy has been the Arts District's rapid real estate development, which includes the 2016 arrival of Swiss behemoth Hauser & Wirth, plus a number of expensive new coffee shops and concept stores. Galleries have come (and gone) to the area’s former warehouse spaces for the relatively affordable real estate, but not without fierce resistance from longtime residents. For better or worse, this region of the city is undergoing dramatic changes that reach beyond the art world. At larger galleries like Night, Ghebaly, and Nicodim, openings spill out into the driveway, likely alongside a taco truck and coolers full of beer cans.
Raw and brutish, paintings by Zhou Yilun are assembled from scraps. For his second show at Nicodim Gallery, some bits are physical, as in collage; others are imagistic, as in layered pictures. He’s a bricoleur, puttering about with whatever comes to hand....
Influenced by cinema, especially the denaturalized space and lighting that one finds in film noir, Yarber is forever pushing up against what is impossible versus plausible. Blind in one eye since birth, he knows he’s seeing it “wrong” but that just means that in these soft-core phantasmagorias he’s only painting what he sees. The flatness, the compression and expansion of pictorial space, and the dream-logic phenomenology of internal cohesion despite intense weirdness all contribute to creating a masterful externalization of a set of internal realities. Freud would be proud....
"Cannabis helped me release any tensions that would block the visualization process,” Yarber said. “It permitted me to enter the plane of the image, and to permeate myself within the scene. The mind-body split would be reduced or diminished, so suddenly the body was in the mind and there was a permission to explore there. There was somatic integration with the visuals as well. The colors would be enhanced. The spatial relationship would be enhanced. I’d be unburdened.”
Yarber notes he may have come to those creative heights anyhow, but remains grateful to the “great gift the plant has given me.”
'I just gravitated towards the drama of gravity being overthrown. That’s just part of the drama, the fact that we’re all stuck here. And also, it had to do with the history of dream lore, my own personal experience of dreaming of levitation and flying. Later, during many openings where I would show this kind of work, people would come up and discuss their own flying dreams, and it worked into about a 50/50 break between people that flew like Superman: extending their arms and propelling themselves by their will, and people who flapped and used their locomotive motion. I happened to be one that flapped...'
Ben Lee Ritchie Handler and Aaron Moulton interviewed for "Modern art fair draws collectors to Berlin art scene," a breaking story from AP covering the 2018 iteration of Art Berlin!
The work of Takadiwa can now be seen in Language is the only homeland, an exhibition in The Nest, NL, about language, and the role language plays in forming a national or cultural identity. In the exhibition space we talked to him about colonial relics, and how it is to work with broken keyboards.
Mihai Nicodim opened his first gallery in Chinatown, Los Angeles in 2006 and later moved to Boyle Heights. In recent years, the gallery has offered a strong program of talented artists from Romania and Eastern Europe, becoming one of the first supporters of the Cluj School, the collective of artists including Adrian Ghenie, Razvan Boar, Ciprian Muresan, and Serban Savu...
A few tables down, a white jumpsuited Ben Lee Ritchie Handler manned the Nicodim Gallery booth, where they sold occult catalogues for a trilogy of exhibitions Aaron Moulton curated at Nicodim’s LA and Bucharest locations. Each copy bore a cryptic symbol and sat behind a matching semitranslucent pyramid....
‘Formal Encounters’ is a group exhibition of policy challenging juxtapositions that speculate calculated instances of commodity in its most forbidden forum. Berlin Art Link spoke to curator Ben Lee Ritchie Handler about the current show at Bucharest’s Galeria Nicodim...
Emerging black artists starred last month at the Armory Show, New York’s biggest contemporary art fair, where Nicodim Gallery sold out of paintings and sculptures by South Africa’s Simphiwe Ndzube on the first day, with prices ranging from $20,000 to $40,000.
We tend to use anthropomorphized animals as proxies in metaphors and morality plays, fairy tales and Freudian projections, tattoos and illuminated manuscripts. Old myths are full of half human, half animal creatures, often gods or at least demigods.
Written in red, the phrase “Formal Encounters is an exhibition of the artist at their most private public moment” closes with a bang the curatorial pseudo-fiction that accompanies the most recent exhibition at Nicodim Gallery in Bucharest, Formal Encounters.
Nicodim Gallery is pleased to present BioPerversity, an exploration of humanity’s darker and lighter perversions as told through the personification of the rest of the animal kingdom, creatures who exist a few rungs beneath us on the evolutionary ladder.
BioPerversity's opening reception featured in "From Sea to Shining Sea" on Artillery's Roll Call. The group show, curated by the ever-charming John Knuth and recent newly appointed director of Nicodim Benjamin Lee Richard Handler, was placed was packed with many familiar faces including Andy Moses, Keith Boadwee, The Box’s Mara McCarthy...
Nicodim Gallery is hosting a group exhibition titled “Formal Encounters” at its Bucharest venue. The exhibition is a take on life affected by hi-tech apps. Every facet of personal interaction is preordained by community guidelines, chatroom moderators, and pirate, national, and corporate Peeping Toms. The casual, the discrete, and the kinky are increasingly formal.
Homeward Bound is a domestic setting where all the skeletons are let out of the closet and allowed to play on the furniture, to stomp each other’s grapes. With the eye of noted designer Oliver M. Furth, the gallery space has been transformed into a literal home, complete with a living room, dining room, bedroom, bathroom, beyond.
“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.
With this exhibition, Simphiwe Ndzube has officially gone international. Ndzube is based in Los Angeles and South Africa, and this presentation is his first solo show outside of his native Cape Town.
Simphiwe Ndzube, in his bold debut at the Nicodim Gallery, has produced a personal and political tragicomedy that is an insightful commentary on the human condition. Set against the backdrop of South Africa where Ndzube was born, Bhabharosi tells the timely story of the hero’s journey that is steeped in the colors and customs of his birthplace but speaks to universal themes.
Certain artists—Kerry James Marshall and Nicole Eisenman come to mind—have mastered the ability to combine life as it is lived with life as it is portrayed; representation and abstraction work in tandem to produce portraits or scenes that reveal more about their subjects than literal depictions.
“Bhabharosi,” the title of Simphiwe Ndzube’s show and several works therein, is a neologism the artist coined from the words “barbarous” and “rose” in isiXhosa, his native language, to refer to his protagonists. As insinuated, a mood of bittersweetness transfuses the exhibition. Variegated mixed-media works portray distorted figures whose ragtag garb and uneasily posed theatricality evoke dystopian fashion mannequins.
Through metaphor and myth we seek to express themes that speak not to the particulars of a time and place but assert the conditions of life in universal terms; it is a need to depict the everyman and woman as players in this tragicomedy of life. From the Tarot deck, the fool steps off of a cliff......
Alexander Reben’s mesmerizing five-minute film Deeply Artificial Trees, 2017, is basically Bob Ross on acid: The beloved late painter’s brushstrokes lay down rapidly morphing images of happy little pines, scorpions, puppies, and sinister birds of prey as Bob talks backward, or possibly in tongues.
Pass through the doors of Nicodim Gallery in Los Angeles and you may think you have entered the astral plane. In one room are feathered costumes and alien paintings produced by the Unarius Academy of Science, the 6-decade-old El Cajon spiritual group that believes in reincarnation and the channeling of knowledge from alien beings.
The show, curated by Aaron Moulton (who also curated the sprawling show next door at Venus over Los Angeles), grapples with the afterlife and the otherworldly and includes so much more: Mungo Thomson’s cosmic wallpaper, a romantic storm-scape by "Painter of Light" Thomas Kinkade, an icily meditative video by Guido van der Werve.
“What artists make is, to a certain extend, an extension of themselves. It somehow shows what is happening in the backs of our minds, how we analyze the world and how we project the world back to ourselves.” - Simphiwe Ndzube
Ghenie might be saying that nothing is ever really lost, and that ends and beginnings, “inaugurations” and “epochal shifts,” repurpose the same scabrous, oily fragments…
At the Nicodim Gallery through January 21st is a particularly potent exhibition given the upcoming presidential inauguration. Ciprian Muresan’s installation, sculptures, and drawings are a defiant inspiration to freedom, both artistic and otherwise. The Romanian artist’s work is symbolic and allegorical, serving up reflections about artistic freedom, creation, and life itself following the ouster of a Soviet regime.
Daniel Pitín’s paintings allegorize the uneasy tension between our mortal individuality and the cold cardboard abyss of the computerized world. Most works in his current show depict inchoate figures merging into geometric multi-planar forms. These unclassifiable, cubistic shapes alternate between obtrusively imposing upon the protagonists and intrusively annexing their bodies.
Nicodim Gallery opened in 2006, in Los Angeles and, in 2012, in Bucharest. Since September 2016, Nicodim Gallery has moved into 1000 sqm fabulous place at Combinatul Fondului Plastic. The space belongs to the Romanian Artists Union who, 26 years after the fall of communism, managed to provide an appropriate function to it.
The Chinese-born artist features messy assemblages and kinetic sculptures crafted from detritus that includes Barbie dolls and religious souvenirs.
Los Angeles, the sunshine city on the West coast of the US, is having its moment now. There is much debate about whether it can rival New York to be the next global art capital. But it is a mistake to compare Los Angeles with New York, Beijing or London, because Los Angeles is what they are not. It is their idiosyncratic counterpoint.
I accompanied Zhou Yilun on his trips to Los Angeles in the summer of 2015 and Bucharest in the spring of 2016, during which he created two bodies of paintings, installations, and sculptures for Nicodim Gallery’s two locations. This essay is the result of my close observation of how he implements the strategies of chance, assemblage, contradiction, and contingency to overtly put under scrutiny the global postmodern discourse of dissolving what Jean-François Lyotard calls master narratives or metanarratives to embrace incongruity and expose the linear narrative of art history
For centuries, folkloric tales were intended as a cultural instrument to teach one how to protect oneself in a precarious environment. The boogeyman is one of its central characters and embodies who or what is the danger. As a communication network for transmitting information, storytelling has become technologically obsolete. It has been replaced by waterfalls of updates, favoring the evolution of a disorienting information-jungle.
Something wicked this way walks. The Romanian title of this show (which began in the gallery’s Bucharest counterpart), “Omul Negru,” translates to “man in black,” and curator Aaron Moulton has included over forty works haunted by bogeymen. Donald Trump is an evil lurker for some, to be sure; the Republican presidential candidate readily evokes the kinds of fears in evidence here.
Today’s show: “Omul Negru” is on view at Nicodim in Los Angeles through Saturday, August 20. The group exhibition, which is curated by Aaron Moulton, presents work by 39 artists, including Adrian Ghenie, John Houck, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Sterling Ruby, and Richard Serra.
“If I should die before I wake
Boogeyman gets my soul to take!
Run as far and fast as you can
There is no escaping the Boogeyman!”
Darkly confronting and disturbing, ‘Omul Negru’ is Los Angeles curator Aaron Moulton‘s exploration of the real and imagined boogeymen that appear in contemporary culture. The exhibition features an extensive depiction of the different embodiments of evil in contemporary culture, both in terms of the artists’ personal visions of the boogeyman and the infamous boogeymen that have plagued human history.
The air in Ecaterina Vrana’s exhibition partakes heavily of oil odors. Like many other contemporary painters, she applies copious quantities of paint in various ways, slathering it like Spackle, squeezing it out in toothpaste-like ropes, engraving it, and stippling it into bas-relief blobs. Unlike some who ice canvases with the goal of creating paintings as brightly hued and tantalizing as cupcakes, Vrana channels paint’s corporeality into somber scenes whose caliginous atmospheres seem to recede far into space.
Ecaterina Vrana’s paintings at Nicodim Gallery are striking in their idiosyncrasy. The Romanian artist handles paint like frosting, depicting dream-like scenarios dominated by women and snowmen, birds and fish, and lots of blood-red tears. The world they inhabit is by turns humorous and dark but wonderfully mysterious.
The gallery owner Mihai Nicodim doesn’t deny himself of ambitious projects: after launching the painter Adrian Ghenie on the international market at an astounding level, he returned from Los Angeles to his hometown, Bucharest, where he opened the gallery that bears his name. Now situated in the sumptuous space in the Enescu Museum building, this gallery not only presents well known or upcoming Romanian artists, but also international artists for which an exhibition in Bucharest can be more picturesque and interesting than the trodden paths of the West.
Romanian artist Șerban Savu was born in 1978, but he’s clearly what one might call an old soul, demonstrating both a precocious confidence in his eccentrically mature vision and a taste for meta-narrative and boundary-blurring in both style and content in an intellectually rigorous mashup that reflects his generation’s brand of slacker surrealism and an embrace of hybridity for its own sake. Recombinance is a hallmark of today’s visual culture.
"There is distinct figuration in my painting. The reasons why I'm a figurative artist and I'm not really abstract are more emotional and are to do with how I relate myself to traditional figurative painting."
Daniel Pitín joins Gerald Matt, director at Kusthalle Wien, Vienna, and Katarzyna Uszynska, an independent curator based in Vienna, to discuss film, memory, and the Kafkaesque nature of Pitín's paintings.
“Once you’re faced with the breadth of art’s potential for the first time it sticks with you,” says Mihai Nicodim. For the L.A.-based dealer, who moved to the United States from Romania just before the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, his own art awakening took place during a visit to early-’80s Berlin, on the heels of a creative education under Communist dictatorship—which was academic, regulated, and far-flung from the perspectives he’d later develop on contemporary art.
Hugo Wilson’s sumptuous oil paintings and delicate drawings, rendered in a dramatic-realist style reminiscent of Dutch masters, depict endearingly quirky subjects—a proboscis monkey elegantly perched in a wooden frame; a collection of claws, feathers, creatures, and a highly detailed human heart—that charm and seduce viewers into the more implicit topic of his work: the amorphous space in which meaning is made.