A series of interconnected life-size portraits done in charcoal, pastel, pen, markers, and pencil is at the center of Toyin Ojih Odutola show at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Image: My Country Has No Name. © the artist and courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
ART NEWS: In her first solo museum exhibition in New York, Toyin Ojih Odutola investigates the private lives of two fictional aristocratic Nigerian families to address the issues of race and the sociopolitical construct of skin color.
NEW YORK, NY- Toyin Ojih Odutola’s first solo museum exhibition in New York has been slated for the Whitney Museum of American Art. Titled Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined, the exhibition will feature a significant new body of work alongside a selection of earlier artworks.
Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined, investigates the private lives and surroundings of two fictional aristocratic Nigerian families: the UmuEze Amara clan and the house of Obafemi. Using a series of interconnected life-size portraits done in charcoal, pastel, and pencil, Toyin Ojih Odutola contests the static notion of identity, even as she addresses the issues of race, wealth, and class.
Ojih Odutola’s portraits are poignant and communicate her power of observation and attention to details. Set against luxurious backdrops of domesticity and leisure, Ojih Odutola’s reimagines the genre and traditional style of portraiture in a way that gives credence to her effective use of portraiture as a means to communicate veritable ideas. She draws from a wide range of elements such as personal experience, art history, popular culture, migration, and dislocation to articulate the themes of narrative, authenticity, and representation.
Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined is organized by Rujeko Hockley, assistant curator, and Melinda Lang, curatorial assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Born in 1985 in Nigeria, Toyin Ojih Odutola was raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She received BA in Studio Art and Communication from the University of Alabama, Huntsville in 2008 and MFA from the California College of Arts, San Francisco in 2012. Ojih Odutola creates multimedia drawings that explore the sociological construct of skin color. Her debut exhibition A Matter of Fact in 2016 features members of the fictionalized aristocratic UmuEze Amara Clan at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. Ojih Odutola who presently lives in New York has also participated in several exhibitions at important museums across the country. In 2015, her works were on display at the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, and in 2013, they were at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art.
The artist has participated in several group shows including Disguise: Masks and Global African Art, Brooklyn Museum (2015); Ballpoint Pen Drawing Since 1950, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (2013); Fore, Studio Museum in Harlem (2012); The Moment for Ink, Chinese Cultural Center, San Francisco (2013); and The Progress of Love, Menil Collection, Houston (2012).
Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined opens October 20, 2017, at Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014, USA.