EST. 2009

May 31, 2020

That Fictional Flourish

WHAT IF COLONIALISM HADN'T OCCURRED? Artist Toyin Ojih Odutola imagines a union between two fictional Nigerian families, depicting their aristocratic affluence in a world untouched by the transatlantic slave trade. Created in three chapters between 2016 and 2018, the series features members of the Emeka and Omodele clans, united through the marriage of their titled sons.

Large-scale portraits and still life in charcoal, pastel and pencil offer a sumptuous experience of Ojih Odutola's narrative. The rich palette and complex mark-making bring to vivid life what is imagined, creating a world and identities that feel organic to the figures.

Apart from the luxurious imagery she creates, I am an instant fan of Ojih Odutola for her accomplishment as a young female artist. A Nigerian-American rethinking the traditions of portraiture and storytelling, she has been featured in Forbes' 2012 list of 30 notable individuals under 30 for art and style.

Drawings from To Wander Determined by Toyin Ojih Odutola. Images from