Odili Donald Odita, ‘Van Gogh's Trees’, 2016, Jack Shainman Gallery

About Odili Donald Odita

Nigerian-born Odili Donald Odita grew up in the American Midwest, and his dual identity has influenced works that fuse elements of Western modernism with African culture. Odita’s abstract paintings combine hard-edged bands of color with an earthy African palette, in patterns that also suggest West African textiles. “In my paintings, I am dealing with memory, the presence and absence of experiences removed; nostalgia for a lost past, and the hope for something new and better,” he says. In installation works and digitally manipulated imagery from fashion advertisements, Odita critiques Western consumerism and the fashion industry’s reductive representations of racial identity. His work also comments on social and political realities in his native Nigeria. In Heaven Can Wait (2001), for example, he placed stacks of Nigerian currency in a wheelbarrow that stands in a puddle of thick black paint, reminiscent of an oil spill; Odita suggests Nigeria’s oil industry is both its greatest resource and the cause of the staggering inflation wrought on the country’s near-valueless currency.

Nigerian, b. 1966, Enugu, Nigeria, based in New York and Philadelphia