For many years Odili Donald Odita has been acutely aware and contemplative of the tensions, contradictions and paradoxes between here and there, Africa and the Western world, and the idea of a Third World and a mainstream First World. The artist, who was born in Nigeria and has lived in the United States for most of his adult life, understands the distances between the perceived centres and margins of the (art) world, and the filtering and distortions that colour the connections between them. His new work considers this in-between space, a space that is often fractured, disjointed and replete with disjunctions and differences, aesthetically, economically, conceptually.
Odita also sees a ‘third degree of separation’ as finding connection within a state of isolation, the cultural limbo of his experiences as an African in the Western world, and more specifically, searching in between these binaries to discover the intricacies of this space, which he understands as ‘the space of colour’.
Aside from a series of new large acrylic paintings, Odita will also exhibit his templates and sketches for the works which offer an insight into the artist’s process. In his words:
I’ve noticed that often a drawing only turns into a painting six months to a year later. Over the period, the drawing transforms; I might go back to it and start using gouache and a brush to reformulate the space. I’m starting to realize that the graph drawings I make are narrative orientated, that they are personal and meaningful to me.
Odili Donald Odita in Recent Years
Since his last solo exhibition in Cape Town in 2012, Odita has created large murals including Heaven’s Gate (2012) at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia; Infinite Horizon (2013) at the George C Young US Courthouse and Federal Building in Orlando, Florida; Possible Worlds (2014) at PS340M in New York City; and Bridge (2014) at the Moss Arts Center, Center for the Arts, Virginia Tech. These site-specific installations are three-dimensional
counterparts to his paintings on canvas, and together they reveal the development of Odita’s life-long meditation on colour.
Over the past three years, his singular approach has earned him inclusion in Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art by Kristine Stiles and the Phaidon publications Painting Abstraction: New Elements in Abstract Painting by Bob Nickas, Defining Contemporary Art – 25 Years in 200 Pivotal Artworks and Vitamin P2.