NEW YORK—“Like the Sea,” Toyin Odutola’s latest solo exhibition at Jack Shainman Gallery (her third) is an inspired family tribute. Her two younger brothers are the subject of the exhibition, which introduces a new direction in the Nigerian-born artist’s choice of materials and an innovative use of textile prints as mark making references to their culture and traditions.
Using pastels and charcoal, Odutola presents her siblings “as they are.” In the gallery’s release, she describes her approach thus:
“It was important for me to have them just be, to look like they weren’t changing themselves for anyone—not even me. The series title was inspired by an excerpt from Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” (1937), where Hurston writes, “Love is lak de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore.
“I was interested in creating a narrative that was ambiguous to any sort of over-arching, direct definition, while emphasizing this idea of creating these drawings as, in and of itself, an act of love.”
In the video below, Odutola reveals that her favorite work in the exhibition is one that features bright white socks. She shares the story of how it came about and that it has inspired her to create a related series.
“Like the Sea” has been on view since May 1. Today is the last day of the exhibition at Jack Shainman’s West 24th Street gallery.
All photos by Arts Observer