Simphiwe Ndzube: Oracles of the Pink Universe

Access Guide

Pink is a color rarely found in nature… in a fictionalized natural space, [it] awakens and politely shocks the viewer into attention.

– Simphiwe Ndzube

Simphiwe Ndzube constructs imaginary universes that address issues of identity and history, power and political struggle, and globalization and freedom. He draws from the twin realities of racial segregation and political unrest—ongoing consequences of colonialism in South Africa—that have affected his people since the 1940s.

Oracles of the Pink Universe is an expansion of the mythological world Ndzube has been developing since early in his career. He was inspired by Hieronymus Bosch's painting The Garden of Earthly Delights (1490–1500), which depicts the creation of the world and the fall of humanity with imaginary characters in a fantastical landscape. In Ndzube’s universe, heaven, earth, and hell intersect in a narrative with no beginning or end.

The Pink Universe is a paradise permeated with the potential for conflict. To Ndzube, pink represents this anticipation and suspense. “When you cut the body open, there is an instant of pink flesh before the wound floods with blood and before it rebuilds itself.” The characters in the Pink Universe inhabit this imagined moment of tension and inspire hope through their resilience.

Simphiwe Ndzube (b. 1990) is a South African artist from the Eastern Cape. Ndzube, now based in Los Angeles, explores the interplay between the real and the magical. His work addresses sociohistorical themes within Black post-apartheid South Africa and stitches together personal accounts and historical memories to give life to his creations.

I am searching for an understanding of existence, of why we’re here… these figures that I create, traversing through these spaces, [are] looking for meaning, looking for love, liberation, and freedom.

– Simphiwe Ndzube

Simphiwe Ndzube: Oracles of the Pink Universe is organized by Simphiwe Ndzube and the DAM. It is presented with the generous support of Vicki and Kent Logan and the Birnbaum Social Discourse Project. Additional support is provided by the Hasday Family Trust, the generous donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign and the residents who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). Promotional support is provided by 5280 Magazine and CBS4