Painter Odili Donald Odita will discuss their work and creative life in the context of our new social reality with artist and critic, Tom McGlynn of the Brooklyn Rail. We will conclude with a poetry reading from Mary Reilly.
Odili Donald Odita
Odili Donald Odita (b. Engu, Nigeria in 1966; lives and works in Philadelphia, PA) is an abstract painter whose work explores color both in the figurative historical context and in the sociopolitical sense. He is best known for his large-scale canvases with kaleidoscopic patterns and vibrant hues, which he uses to reflect the human condition.
For Odita, color in itself has the possibility of mirroring the complexity of the world as much as it has the potential for being distinct. In his paintings, we see color interwoven and mixed, becoming an active agent in representing the essential power that light has in identifying the entirety of our world. He thinks of his colors as agents to express thoughts, ideas, and transformational change. Much of his color selection is based on personal memories and created intuitively by hand-mixing so that no two shades are ever repeated.
Born in Nigeria and raised in the American Midwest, Odita’s work is also heavily inspired by a sense of dual identity, combining aspects of Western modernity with African culture. His practice speaks to a contrast of cultures and a desire to create something new from a set of distinct parts. In this sense, his paintings, like a stitched or quilted textile, are weavings from different spaces, times, and various temperaments, which convey the complexity of culture, identity, and being.
An artist, writer, and independent curator based in the NYC area. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum of the Smithsonian.
He is the director of Beautiful Fields, an organization dedicated to socially-engaged curatorial projects, and is also currently a visiting lecturer at Parsons/the New School. Tom is a contributor to the Brooklyn Rail.
The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poem, and we’re fortunate to have Mary Reilly reading.