Abe Odedina: Eye to Eye

Copeland Gallery, Copeland Park & Bussey Building, London, United Kingdom
29 Nov 2016 - 04 Dec 2016

Abe Odedina: Eye to Eye

Abe Odedina , Should I Stay or Should I Go (2016) (detail) , acrylic on plywood 122 x 81 cm

Ed Cross Fine Art announces 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 art 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 Yoruban 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.


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