One of the world’s most esteemed ceramic artists, Dame Magdalene Odundo, will make her Canadian debut this fall at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto. Magdalene Odundo: A Dialogue with Objects opens October 19, 2023. It will be the largest ever North American exhibition of Odundo’s work.
Since the early 1980s, the British-Kenyan artist has pursued a singular vision centered on the refined, magisterial ceramic vessel. Made entirely by hand and finished to a smooth, lustrous sheen, these works are uniquely her own while synthesizing traditions of ceramics and other media from multiple global cultures.
Odundo’s sensuous vessels, with their vibrant orange and velvety black surfaces, reference the human body; their rounded bellies and elongated necks evoking a sense of energy and movement. The artist works on a single vessel for months, slowly and rhythmically, pouring years of experimentation and technical mastery into each piece.
Odundo’s work can be found in the world’s preeminent collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum, National Museum of African Art, The British Museum, The Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Gardiner Museum.
“I always hoped I would be invited to have an exhibition in Canada, and to have it at the Gardiner Museum is very special for me, especially as one of my favourite pieces to come out of my studio is in their collection,” said Odundo.
The carbonized terracotta vessel, which will be featured in the exhibition, was made by Odundo in 2003 and is the only work by the artist in a public collection in Canada.
Magdalene Odundo: A Dialogue with Objects comes almost four years after the biggest ever display of the artist’s work, Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things, opened at The Hepworth Wakefield in the UK. Like the acclaimed British presentation, the exhibition at the Gardiner Museum will feature Odundo’s work with contextual objects from art and archaeology, giving insight into her global influences.