Eye to Eye – New Paintings by Abe Odedina
Copeland Gallery, London
Private View: Thursday 1st December, 6.30 – 9.30pm
Exhibition: 29th November – 4th December 11.00am – 8.00pm
Copeland Gallery, Copeland Park & Bussey Building, 133 Copeland Road, London, SE15 3SN
Ed Cross Fine Art is pleased to announce EYE TO EYE, an exhibition with new paintings by Abe Odedina. This is the inaugural presentation of Odedina’s work in association with Ed Cross Fine Art and curated by Katherine Finerty.
This exhibition hosts a community of figurative portraits. They invite us to relate directly to a single figure or couple on display and immediately put ourselves inside the frame – to look at ourselves, see within, and sense a ‘looking-back’: a moment of recognition. ‘EYE to EYE acknowledges the role of the spectator in completing each work, each armed with their own unique point of view’, the artists declares. This type of seeing ‘eye to eye’ is not just about looking, or agreeing, but rather about communicating and connecting.
Odedina describes himself as a folk artist and his practice is inspired by the rich figurative and oral traditions of African art, infused with a trace of magic realism. The legibility of his allegorical vernacular, warmly hailed as ‘Brixton Baroque’, is paramount. His work is operatic and mythical whilst intimate and accessible. Odedina references objects and symbols from a global glossary and activates them with timeless, relatable characters – magicians like Professor Peller, goddesses like Mami Wata and Pomba Gira, young passionate lovers – to engage us in a conversation filled with personal and universal references that summon a sense of camaraderie. ‘The struggle is to reconcile bold imagery with ideas about ambiguity or indeterminacy. My intention is to arouse the imagination and heart of the viewer and to detonate ideas in another realm’.
Furthermore, Odedina is influenced by a diverse range of creators – Voodoo practitioners from Haiti, the Painters of the Sacred Heart, anonymous African craftsman – championing those who choose to be makers. His practice seeks to revive and deconstruct quintessential classical themes spanning from ancient Greek to Yoruba mythologies to create a charged dialogue between epochs, cultures, and peoples. The stories breaking through the surface of his paintings surpass physical borders. They activate a uniquely contemporary conversation that oscillates between life and art, and in the folk tradition, life trumps art.
EYE TO EYE encourages all whom are present to engage in a world of human agency: the Eye of the painting looks directly, deeply, and invitingly into the Eye of the viewer – establishing a connection that enables us to see the world, objects, symbols, and ourselves that much more clearly and powerfully.
Abe Odedina was born in Ibadan, Nigeria in 1960 and currently lives in London and Salvador Bahia. He is a trained architect who started painting on a trip to Brazil in 2007. Now a full-time painter, Odedina works with acrylic on plywood, making flat surfaces with vibrant, stylised subjects that delight in the use of colour and celebrate the power of both the everyday and the mythical. Solo exhibitions include HI-LIFE, Brixton East (2014), Under the Influence, Aldeburgh Beach Lookout (2013); and Recent Paintings, Snape Maltings Gallery, Suffolk (2013). Group exhibitions include Brixton Design Trail, Street Gallery (2015), Global Artists Consortium, Knight Webb Gallery (2013) and the BP Portrait Award 2013, National Portrait Gallery, London (2013), for which he was nominated for his painting The Adoration of Frida.
Ed Cross was born in England and currently lives and works in London. He is a dealer, curator, and artist who established Ed Cross Fine Art in 2009 to promote and sell contemporary visual arts from Africa and its diasporas. Cross has been instrumental in building a number of major private collections of African art and is curator of the privately owned Daraja Collection of contemporary African Art. Prior to this Cross lived in Kenya for twenty years where he focused on his art career as a sculptor and ran his own educational publishing business representing Cambridge University Press, Edward Arnold, and other leading international publishers. He studied History of Art and English Literature at the University of Cambridge.
Katherine Finerty was born in New York City and currently lives and works in London. She is an independent curator, writer, and art historian focusing on socially-activated practices, translocal identity politics, and contemporary African art. Recent professional experiences include being the inaugural curator for Daata Editions; participating in the 2016 Tate Intensive and ICI Curatorial Intensive in New Orleans; working as the Curatorial Assistant for the GIBCA 2015 (Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art) and Biennale de Lubumbashi 2012/2013; co-founding the nomadic art radio station «ECHO»; and assisting artist Theaster Gates. She has interned at The Studio Museum in Harlem, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum, and White Cube Gallery. Finerty has a Masters in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, a BA in History of Art and Africana Studies from Cornell University, and studied History of Art at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge.
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