States Of Being

Toyin Ojih Odutola

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Toyin Ojih Odutola (b.1985 in Ile-Ife, Nigeria; lives and works in New York, NY) is best known for her multimedia drawings and works on paper, which explore the malleability of identity and the possibilities in visual story-telling. Interested in the topography of skin, Ojih Odutola has a distinctive style of mark-making using only basic drawing materials, such as ballpoint pens, pencils, pastels and charcoal. This signature technique involves building up of layers on the page, through blending and shading with the highest level of detail, creating compositions that reinvent and reinterpret the traditions of portraiture. Ojih Odutola credits the development of her style from using pen, which holds a special significance through its function as a writing tool, as her work is also akin to fiction. She often spends months crafting narratives that unfold through series of artworks like the chapters of a book.

Her work is inspired by both art history and popular culture, as well as her own personal history—being born in Nigeria then moving as a child to America where she was raised in conservative Alabama. The idea of traveling or transporting the self is a recurring theme in her work and, for Ojih Odutola, the construction of her figures is a means of discovering an individual’s character and personal story. Though the representation of skin has been a core focus of her practice, she has also explored depictions of landscapes, architecture and domestic interiors in more recent series.


Toyin Ojih Odutola: Tell Me A Story, I Don't Care If It's True
Sep 10 – Nov 07, 2020
Toyin Ojih Odutola: When Legends Die
20th Street, Sep 06 – Oct 27, 2018
20th Street, Jun 28 – Aug 10, 2018
The Coffins of Paa Joe and the Pursuit of Happiness
The School, Jun 08, 2017 – Feb 24, 2018
The Coffins of Paa Joe and the Pursuit of Happiness
Jun 08 – Aug 25, 2017
Toyin Ojih Odutola: Of Context And Without
20th Street, Dec 11, 2015 – Jan 30, 2016
Status Quo
The School, Jan 31 – Apr 12, 2015
Mise En Scène
The School, Aug 01 – Dec 01, 2014
Like The Sea
May 01 – May 31, 2014
My Country Has No Name
20th Street, May 16 – Jun 29, 2013
20th Street, May 26 – Jun 25, 2011