Odili Donald Odita

Born in Enugu, Nigeria, in 1966, Odili Donald Odita explores the element of color in both figurative and historical and sociopolitical contexts through his works, seeking to tell the story of Africa and its rich culture. Raised in Nigeria, Donald Odita spent his adolescence in Huntsville, Alabama, USA. While studying at Ohio State University and Bennington College, he came into contact with the likes of Peter Halley and Sarah Canright. This eclectic training would help develop his multidisciplinary approach to art and influenced his understanding of color theory and geometry. One of the distinguishing features of Odili Donald Odita’s work is his bold and vibrant use of color. His geometric and abstract compositions are a symphony of bright, contrasting hues that blend together to create a striking visual effect. Odita experiments with combining complementary colors, pastel shades, and vibrant hues to create a sense of harmony and vitality in his works. His approach to color is intentional and is designed to arouse emotions and feelings in the viewer. According to the artist, «Color itself has the potential to reflect the complexity of the world as well as the potential for its own particular identity. The figurative scheme and patterns of my paintings are my own creation. I continue to seek the metaphorical ability in my work to approach the human condition through pictorial patterns, their structure and design, as well as the ability to stimulate memory. The colors I use are a mix of various shades that I create personally to reflect the set of visual memories I have acquired during my travels. This is also one of the most complicated aspects of my work, as I create new hues intuitively, mixing colors by hand, and coordinating them during the creative process. My practice never sees the same color repeated more than once, but at most, one color may look similar to another. This aspect is very important to me as it reflects the disparity and variety that exists in our world, made up of people and things.» Odili Donald Odita’s production also reflects his cultural identity and experiences as a Nigerian-American artist. In his works, he explores themes of belonging, migration, race and culture. Using color as a visual language, he seeks to create a dialogue on the complexities of contemporary life and both shared and individual experiences. His work invites the audience to reflect on diversity, inclusion and peaceful coexistence between different cultures and identities. The artist’s work has been exhibited in museums and institutions around the world. In recent years, the artist has produced large-scale wall works, commissioned by government organizations and art institutions including The United States Mission to the United Nations in New York (2011); the Savannah College of Art and Design (2012); New Orleans Museum of Art (2011); Kiasma, Helsinki (2011). The artist has received grants from the Penny McCall Foundation (1994), the Joan Mitchell Foundation (2001), and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation (2007). In 2007, his large-scale installation Give Me Shelter was shown at the 52nd Venice Biennale as part of the main exhibition curated by Robert Storr, Think With The Senses, Feel With the Mind. The artist lives and works in Philadelphia, where he teaches painting and drawing at the Tyler School of Art, Temple University. In 2016 M77 Gallery presented the exhibition The Differend. The exhibition featured a selection of works created specifically for the show. Odita also created a large wall-painting, for which the artist is particularly well known for. The exhibition title came from the book of the same name, published in 1988, by philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard (1924–1998): “differend” (dissent, disagreement) is a term of French origin that designates the moment when language becomes insufficient for communication. The meaning of a sentence, according to Lyotard, cannot be established on the basis of the facts to which it refers: reality is a complex of possible meanings, all connected to reality itself through words. It follows that language is insufficient to describe and understand the world, and the true meaning of any sentence will always remain indeterminate. A relativism that Odita borrows from verbal to pictorial language, attributing to colors the same multiplicity of meanings that Lyotard assigned to words.

Odili Donald Odita


At M77:

Date: 31/05/2016

- 17/09/2016


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On the occasion of Miami Art Week, ICA Miami celebrates its newest season of exhibitions by displaying among other outst…
Arte Fiera 2017
Odili Donald Odita, Time Machine, 2016, Acrylic latex on laminate panel, 244 x 122 cm M77 Gallery is pleased to ann…