On Friday, September 7, 2018, W Magazine profiled Nigerian artist, Toyin Ojih Odutola from the angle of reimagining Nigerian slaves as royals, dressed in regal costume while acknowledging their status.
Someone has to do it
Over the past 3 years, Odutola has been on what W Magazine described as “something of a streak,” chronicling African history family.
It is then no surprise that on Thursday, September 6, 2018, she held a solo outing titled, “ When Legends Die,” at Jack Shainman Gallery where she exemplified herself as an artist who, “Imagines things that don’t exist in the world and figures out to translate them.”
On the show which explores lineage she says, “To be Prince Harry is to always know where you come from. So much of the representation of historically oppressed people has been this loss of history that is the transatlantic slave trade. I want to depict a family that never experienced that.”
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This chatter of background might then be aided by her diversity of ideas as an immigrant when her father lectured at the University of Huntsville, Alabama. As such, those ideals might have led to creating life in her own view.
It all started when her work was on the season 2 premiere of hit Fox TV show, Empire as a prop in Cookie Lyon’s apartment. The congratulatory messages were incredible like a flood. Since then, she has done a successful show at the Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco and a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
On her acclaimed shows, W Magazine raves, “large-scale figurative works tell the fictive story of two aristocratic Nigerian families, regally depicted against luxurious domestic backdrops — her take on traditional European portraiture.”
She says, “This whole saga answers the question: What would it look like to have wealth embodied by historically oppressed figures?”
In truth, perspective and uniqueness have always been key to monumental artworks. As such, at 32, it seems Odutola has just started. With imagination so good to recreate history, she looks on the rise.