Up until college, I had grown up with an appreciation for fine art thanks to my parents, but it was never really something I had sought out on my own.
I knew enough “art” to maintain my sense of weird, self-righteous adolescent pride in being cultured and artsy. My interest was driven by nothing else really of nobler substance.
At 18, I moved to New York for college, and I enrolled in an art crit class on a whim during freshman year: the Art of Now course at New York University.
Fast forward to 2013, when I studied abroad in Shanghai. I decided to take on a heavier workload of art classes and immersed myself in contemporary and Asian art. I don’t remember much of the art I saw in detail, but this period of time would leave an indelible mark on me, and it was a catalyst for my passion.
I returned, enrolled in some more art classes.. a studio class in drawing.
During my time as a student, I had more time in the afternoons and between classes to do other things (doing nothing, meeting friends at cafes or for lunch in the West Village, chilling near fountains – damn life from 18-22 was so sweet) and I began exploring gallery spaces and art exhibitions everywhere! pretty intensely.
I started taking random things at home: scissors, a tableweight, a pepper from the kitchen, a rose and draw.
So newly inspired I was by the intricate beauty in all things that held form, line, and shape.
I was falling in love with art then.
I began to accumulate a larger inventory of the things I liked and disliked, formulate stronger opinions backed by a latticework of thoughts and experiences built thanks to the plenitude of art I’ve seen in the years which have since passed post- college.
For example, I prefer minimalism and modernism. I like French impressionism, and abstract expressionism.
Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele works are so luscious and rich. Contemporary movements like pop surrealism, otherwise knowns as “Lowbrow” art are so cool.
I don’t find a lot of photography art to be impressive, but I’m okay with that. Installations with various forms of media are sometimes a hit or miss for me. I like contemporary art, but I’m not particularly fond of Jeff Koons (active from 1977 – ) or Damien Hirst (1988 – , or Jean-Michel Basquiat (1976 – ). But I do love me my Toyin Ojih Odutola (2008 – , Osamu Yokonami, and Chad Wys (2011 – ) :
It’s 2018 and I love art more than ever.
I move and live every week, drinking in all the things I see, from the daily visuals of life to the more curated representations of art at institutions.
And the more I do that, the more I understand this:
Art is an instrument that instructs the way we see and live our lives. Our lives, in turn, are ripe, breeding grounds for art: new expressions and new manifestos… and who’s to say that the act of life and breathing aren’t art in themselves.
They are synonymous with one another– and I cannot see the difference.
Indie Films to Watch
Art Shows to See
Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman & Designer, at the Met Museum on 5th Avenue
Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Life, at the David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea on 19th St.
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.
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:
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.
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.