“The Eye Sees Not Itself” at Nicodim

Lavar Munroe and Simphiwe Ndzube. The Eye Sees Not Itself at Nicodim Gallery. Photograph by Lee Thompson, Courtesy of the artists and Nicodim Gallery.

The Spiritual Manifested in the Material

The Eye Sees Not Itself at Nicodim Gallery


Including Charles Dickson, Lavar Munroe, Buhlebezwe Siwani, Simphiwe Ndzube, Umar Rashid
and Moffat Takadiwa

Through June 16, 2018

By Sydney Walters

In Nicodim Gallery’s latest exhibit The Eye Sees Not Itself, six artists weigh in on the discourse of the spiritual embodied in the material world. Showcasing a variety of mediums such as painting, installation and video art, the show analyzes the psyche that propels the artist to make sense of a space and time infused with Africana tradition and heritage.

In Lavar Munroe’s Death of the Performer: Celebration of the Marvelous Life, a large yellow and green parachute hangs deflated from the ceiling. A dog made with cardboard, synthetic hair, plastic balls and other paraphernalia crouches attentively at the base of the parachute. This parachute belonged and was used by Monroe’s father prior to his passing in 2015. It is a billowing memorial of his father’s legacy and a spiritual collaboration between father and son.

In Simphiwe Ndzube’s The Gravediggers, a purple hued woman stands in a bulging shirt and skirt. A dark red wig is pinned to her shoulder giving the painting depth and textural interest. Twisted green and orange masses float like branches across the foggy green backdrop. In The Purging, a blind and decaying figure is poised to walk out of frame. In the background, a faceless figure dressed in green pantaloons and a brightly patterned shirt balances on one leg. The other leg is bent awkwardly in the air and instead of a foot, a long serpentine stem whips in the air. A dead crow, harbinger of death hangs from a funneled tube punctured with demonic horns. In his paintings, Ndzube creates surrealist visions of both human violence and resilience.

Like the work of artist El Anatsui, Zimbabwe artist Moffat Takadiwa transforms found objects into exquisite drapery and sculptures. Using primarily discarded computer keys, Takadiwa weaves these objects into organic forms as an innovative way to consider technology while drawing attention to consumerist waste. His 12×17 foot The Urinari/Chimbuzi, appears to be a glittering black and gold curtain from a distance. It hangs like a tapestry with ruffled edges cascading between phallic forms at the bottom. Closer inspection reveals the defined corners of black computer keys and gold injection bottle tops. In making waste into art, Takadiwa’s materials shatter the fantasy that what is out of sight and out of mind disappears while simultaneously protesting the dumping of expired technology and drugs.

In Umar Rashid’s painting The Waters of Flint, Source of All Things, gold flakes are scattered along a multicolored scene of contemporary black icons turned hieroglyphics. The god Ra dunks a basketball and a Pegasus shots lightening bolts from its eyes. A black and white snake weaves across the canvas, gliding past suspended DNA, alligator gods and jukeboxes. This mash-up of symbols painted in hieroglyphic flatness alludes to Egyptian rendering of men, beasts and gods that are all seeing and eternal.

In a haunting video diptych, Buhlebezwe Siwani painfully peels chicken feathers from her body. On the left panel, Siwani grimaces in discomfort as the feathers are scratched and pulled off of her naked body. The right panel is a view of her knees and feet as white feathers fall onto the floor and pile around her feet. In Ngenzelephantsi, Siwani’s reframes the role of a chicken in African cleansing ceremonies. Her body is subject to a transformation of one thing to another and in the case of a sacrificial chicken, from one life to another.

Charles Dickson’s Stool of Knowledge is a roundtable of artifacts. Carved stone, earthenware, incense holders and fertility symbols are positioned around a tree stump turned stool. Its gnarled, twisted branches are inlayed with a phallic sculpture and decorated with gold and fine gems. All of these objects are featured on a round wooden platform wrapped in a chain. This piece is an amalgamation of black history artifacts and although laden with heavy and valuable objects, the entire platform is on wheels, suggesting that the Stool of Knowledge is mobile, transitioning object.

The Eye Sees Not Itself is a dynamic survey into the mechanisms of Africana culture, technology, memory and spiritual sensibility.

Nicodim Gallery Los Angeles
571 S Anderson Street Ste 2
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Gallery Hours
Tuesday – Saturday: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *