Simphiwe Ndzube - New Now London Tuesday, July 13, 2021 | Phillips

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  • 'The work is so much based on the openness. I do not judge my work. I bring to it what comes naturally, and I allow it, as the finish goes to be whatever it’s going to be.'
    —Simphiwe Ndzube

    Ndzube is a South African artist, living and working in Los Angeles and Cape Town. What characterises his work is the interaction of different media and two-dimensional surfaces blending past experiences with fantasy. Power, conflict, and the search for freedom are all prevalent themes of Ndzube’s work, which are translated through an imaginative world manifesting imagery of the Black experience in post-apartheid South Africa.

    Figure with a Whip Leg exemplifies how Ndzube employs magical realism, a genre first conceptualised in Latin America, to represent his artistic and personal journey of rebellion and renewal. This immersive, kaleidoscopic painting speaks of his exceptional imagination and technical versatility, consisting of hallucinated worlds that weave in and out of each other, exploding into vibrant colours. The flamboyant figure in the present work is caught in between two realms, the arm extending beyond the confines of the canvas into what seems to be a braid.

    Ndzube mainly uses second-hand clothing and found objects for his mix media compositions, adding a humbling quality to the works and reinforces the grand narrative of his oeuvre. When describing his work, the artist affirms, ‘there is a recurring appearance of the figure in my work; part dandy, part worker and warrior. Often raceless and androgynous, with the body not fully formed. I often imagine these figures existing in a fantasy landscape patched with cut out duct tape and patterns with these snake ties growing as obstacles and strange plants. For me, they all speak of the struggle of being human or claiming to be seen and recognised within our standards of what has been normalised as ‘human.’i


    Set in a mythical setting called The Mine Moon, Figure with a Whip Leg tells a story about the last remaining dam and the planet’s one remaining water source, which has been stolen from the moon’s native inhabitants by its colonizers, the Mungu people. The story is focused on the people who are affected by abuses of authority, exploring the geopolitical, socioeconomic, and spiritual relationships people have with water. According to Ndzube, ‘A lot of my narratives and mythologies are based off of historical patterns in power relations, both in South Africa, where I am from, and abroad. With water, the struggles that many people are facing in South Africa are almost echoed in places like Mexico or even Detroit.’ii


    Though the fantasy realm created by Ndzube is shaped by history and experiences of migration and exploitation, it allows for self-discovery and renewal.  Alternating between joy and hopelessness, Ndzube’s work questions modern societies and governments, addressing universal problems.
    i Simphiwe Ndzube quoted by Marta Gnyp in ‘Simphiwe Ndzube,’ GNYP Art Advisory, March 2017, online 
    ii Simphiwe Ndzube quoted in ‘Simphiwe Ndzube’ Africa First, 2019, online 

    • Provenance

      Gazelli Art House, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Bucharest, Nicodim, Simphiwe Ndzube: In the Order of Elephtans After the Rain, 28 September - 9 November 2019
      Baku, Gazelli Art House, Simphiwe Ndzube, Navid Nuur and Sara Rahbar, 24 November 2019 - 29 February 2020

    • Literature

      'Simphiwe Ndzube at Nicodim Gallery,' Daily Lazy, 8 November 2019, online (illustrated)
      'Simphiwe Ndzube at Nicodim,' Art Viewer, November 2019, online (illustrated)



Figure With a Whip Leg

signed, titled and dated 'Simphiwe Ndzube 2019 "Figure with a whip leg"' on the reverse
acrylic, fabric, sequins, fake hair, canvas, tape and felt hat collage, pins and staples on linen
200 x 150 cm (78 3/4 x 59 in.)
Executed in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

£18,000 - 24,000 

Sold for £37,800

Contact Specialist

Simon Tovey
Head of New Now Sale
+44 20 7318 4084

New Now

London Auction 13 July 2021