Saying Something: Toyin Ojih Odutola

 

Say hello to the newest heavy-weight in portraiture, Toyin Ojih Odutola.

I first became acquainted with this Nigerian artist’s work during a run at the galleries in Chelsea a couple years ago. I remember being so viscerally struck by her drawings that day. They were white pencil on white paper– I had to lower my body and kneel closer to the ground to see what the drawings held. It was a moving experience to encounter the fullness of these white identities she drew out for the appraiser– very controlled and calculated.

I’ve since become fascinated by the unique mark-making techniques she employs.

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Imagine a big drawing like this, except everything was white on white.

 

The Brooklyn based artist uses whirls and lots of hairy (really that’s what it looks like in person: the wispiest of wispy hairs) detailing to create rich visual narratives that surround her already deeply contextualized subjects. If you look at her artwork in person, you’ll see all the swirls and membrane-like pieces that make up the sum of a composition of faces, bodies, and identities– so much integrity and thought put to paper face via graphite, charcoal, or pastel:

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Toyin toys with anything from discussions on natural identity to more poignant POVs on say, racial profiling.

 

I’m happy to share that Toyin Ojih Odutola will be holding her first solo exhibit at The Whitney Museum this month, a commission that is well deserved by this outspoken wunderkind.

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Pregnant, 2017

 

Check out her upcoming show, To Wander Determined, at The Whitney Museum of American Art on 99 Gansevoort St., open to the public from October 20th.

I can’t wait to see it.

 

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