Ed Cross Fine Art presents Birds of Paradise, the second comprehensive installation of a major series of paintings by Abe Odedina curated by Katherine Finerty at the Copeland Gallery from 24 April -1 May.
Spectacular, iridescent plumage with elaborate, elongated tails – these striking features distinguish birds of paradise, and their eponymous blossoms. These creatures are all unique, express themselves fully, and are quite simply a celebration of just being alive. This new body of work by Abe Odedina is a salutation to all that birds of paradise represent: the importance of never forgetting that humanity is magnificent and enduring, no matter how shrivelled or shrunken we may feel personally and collectively. In a moment where notions of paradise might seem more tenuous and far away from reality than ever, these landscapes, portraits, and stories remind us to become reattached in the face of cacophony. They inspire us to fight back with a tender sense of respect, a curious penchant for listening, and an effortless sense of seduction – basically and blissfully: to live our best lives.
This exhibition takes us on a journey of diverse interpretations of paradise that prioritise humanity and the universal search for fulfilment. From surrealist landscapes to everyday domestic settings, Odedina’s works make it clear that whilst paradise is far from perfection, it is filled with possibility and thus more than just a mirage of hope. Whether our conception of paradise reveals itself as an environment, state of mind, or fantasy, we’re preoccupied with how we can best belong within these physical and ideological realms.
The artists states: ‘What I’m always excited about is bringing big, bold paintings into the world that seem to be clear on what they don’t know… We’re going to have to find ways of understanding how we’re here: it’s going to include factual stuff, and it’s going to include magical stuff, and we’re going to find the right blend if we want to have a meaningful life.’
Abe Odedina (b. 1960, Ibadan, Nigeria, lives in London and Salvador Bahia) 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: True Love, The Department Store Brixton (2018); Body Language, 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House (2017); EYE TO EYE, Copeland Gallery (2016), HI-LIFE, Brixton East (2014); and Under the Influence, Aldeburgh Beach Lookout (2013). Group exhibitions:Talisman in the Age of Difference, Stephen Friedman (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 (2013), for which Odedina was nominated for his diptych The Adoration of Frida. The artist, together with The Underground Museum, Los Angeles, was awarded the 2017 Ellsworth Kelly Award from the Foundation of Contemporary Arts, New York. His works are in major collections internationally, including The British Government Art Collection.