Abe Odedina Nigeria, b. 1960

Abe Odedina (born 1960, Ibadan, Nigeria) lives between in London and Salvador Bahia and describes himself as a folk artist – yet, implicitly and explicitly, Odedina’s practice questions the validity of 'folk art' as a discrete category. Odedina’s work offers objects which embrace their objecthood: a gesture both radical and very simple indeed.

 

‘I am not persuaded by the concerns of the formal art project. I can be interested in it and amused by it, but I don’t value it over and above all else’, says the artist. Painting on board rather than canvas, Odedina’s compositions embody all the solidity — and practicality — of shop fronts or municipal murals. Compositional elements of Renaissance portraiture, devotional painting and even pop art frame figures from diverse mythologies (Yoruba, Haitian, Ancient Greek) as well as passers-by or characters plucked from the artist’s own imagination. ‘If, like me, you don’t have the discipline or the interest in holding these clear categories,’ says Odedina, ‘then maybe it’s better to enjoy that morphing from hard facts to poetry, from something to nothing.’

 

Odedina was commissioned by director Danny Boyle and the South African charity Dramatic Need to create a new body of work for the digital set of The Children’s Monologues, at Carnegie in New York City, November 2017. His work is in a number of major international collections including The British Government Art Collection, the Serge Tiroche Collection and the collection of Jorge Pérez.

 

Solo exhibition highlights: Cutting Edge, Ed Cross Fine Art, London (2021); Birds of Paradise, Copeland Gallery, London (2019); True Love, The Department Store, London (2018); Say it Loud, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House, London, (2017); Eye to Eye, Copeland Gallery, London (2016); Hi-Life, Brixton East (2014); Under the Influence, The Lookout, Aldeburgh  (2013). Group exhibition highlights: In the Beginning, Ed Cross Fine Art, Online (2021); Stop, Listen! CFHILL, Online (2021); Folk Art, London Art Fair, Online (2021); Art X Lagos, Online (2020); Diaspora, New Ashgate Gallery, Farnham (2019); Get Up, Stand Up Now, Somerset House, London (2019); Talisman in the Age of Difference, Stephen Friedman Gallery (June 2018), Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy (2017), Brixton Design Trail, Street Gallery (2015); Global Artists Consortium, Knight Webb Gallery (2013); and BP Portrait Award, National Portrait Gallery, London (2013).