SCAD Museum of Art presents "Testing the Name," an exhibition of new drawings by Toyin Ojih Odutola that continues her exploration of the merger of two fictional aristocratic Nigerian families through the marriage of two men. Ojih Odutola has constructed a complex, episodic body of work, based on acute observations and imaginary flights of fancy. In her practice, the artist both critiques and embraces traditional portraiture genres, and its association with the representation of power within a Western art historical context. Working primarily in pastel on paper, and through a virtuosic handling of these materials, Ojih Odutola creates detailed, rich, layered surfaces that seduce and compel.
The artist's unusual approach to the rendering of skin and its textures is an acute and considered comment on the representation of blackness. Her velvet, seductive surfaces claim territory within the art historical canon of portraiture, which historically favored whiteness. Ojih Odutola's radical black skins seemingly bend light, resisting a logical visual comprehension that speaks as complex metaphor.
The artist’s subjects are itinerant, cosmopolitan and, while intentionally not recognizable, drawn partially from her own inner circle. Ojih Odutola places individuals and couples in opulent interiors and rich landscapes, at leisure and in social interactions. Architectural details and objects surrounding her subjects receive equal attention. Of Nigerian descent, she grew up in the American South and developed a seemingly plausible narrative incorporating themes that, in reality, might not be so straightforward. The artist’s choices are a statement and decision to self-determination and, through their representation, bring into reality a hopeful present.
"Testing the Name" is curated by Storm Janse van Rensburg, head curator of SCAD exhibitions.
The exhibition is free for all museum members, and SCAD students, faculty and staff with a valid SCAD Card. Open to the public with the cost of museum admission.
This exhibition is part of SCAD deFINE ART 2018, held Feb. 20-23 at university locations in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia, and Hong Kong. SCAD deFINE ART is an annual program of exhibitions, lectures, performances and public events that highlights emerging and established artists and visionaries.