Odili Donald Odita




Odili Donald Odita

Born in 1966, Enugu, Nigeria.
Lives and works in Philadelphia, USA

Born in Nigeria and raised in the U.S., Odita became known for Noland-ish paintings that adopted the palette of his African heritage (landscape or textiles), and in the gallery's press release he says the current works continue his exploration of black in both color and sociopolitical senses.

Artist statement:

The organization and patterning in the paintings are of my own design. I continue to explore in the paintings a metaphoric ability to address the human condition through pattern, structure and design, as well as for its possibility to trigger memory. The colors I use are personal: they reflect the collection of visions from my travels locally and globally. This is also one of the hardest aspects of my work as I try to derive the colors intuitively, hand-mixing and coordinating them along the way. In my process, I cannot make a color twice – it can only appear to be the same. This aspect is important to me as it highlights the specificity of differences that exist in the world of people and things.

“What is most interesting to me is a fusion of cultures where things that seem faraway and disparate have the ability to function within an almost seamless flow. The fusion I seek is one that can represent a type of living within a world of difference. No matter the discord, I believe through art there is a way to weave the different parts into an existent whole, where metaphorically, the notion of a common humanity can be understood as real.”

I want to expand upon painting to reinvestigate its inherent means, as well as contribute to its ongoing intellectual future. My commitment to painting has come with a growing understanding of quality and beauty that can be found through painting, and how beauty, when actualized, can communicate a complete consciousness.

At this time, I am still interested in how my paintings can look like the scrambled reception from a television set, a disconnect from recognizable imagery, and yet giving one the sense of a familiarity located deep within one’s own culture. In our overly mediated reality, I am all too aware of television and its doctored way of transmitting the information we consume on a minute-by-minute basis – a type of socio/cultural information that can successfully influence us in the ways that we think, act, see and feel within our environment. It is my intent to mimic this format through painting, but in my way the subversion I wish to conduct is a type of communication that speaks of and for Africa. African culture is so interregnal to western culture, and yet the continent continues to exist as a region denigrated in the mind of the entire world. I wish to re-channel the negative thinking around Africa, speak from the center of its present-ness, and expand upon what I know and understand about the history of this amazing and unquantifiable place.

  • 1998. ART/OMI, International Artist Residency
  • 1990. M.F.A., Bennington College, Vermont
  • 1988. B.F.A. (with Distinction) Ohio State University; Excellence in the Arts

Solo exhibitions:

  • 2010 – 2011. Musee d’art de Joliette, Quebec, Canada
  • 2010. Body & Space, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, November 18–December 23, 2010.
  • 2010. Perspectives 169: Odili Donald Odita, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, February 11–May 2, 2010.
  • 2009. Up & Away (permanent installation),Butler Commons, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, October 9, 2010.
  • 2009. Television, Ulrich Project Series, Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita, Kansas, April 9–April 26, 2010.
  • 2009 – 2008. Third Space, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, September 5, 2008–December 6, 2009. Exhibition organized by Stamatina Gregory. (Brochure)
  • 2008. One-Person Exhibition, Center for Contemporary Art, Turin, Italy
  • 2008. One-Person Exhibition, The Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
  • 2008. Paper Trail II: Passing Through Clouds, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, The Herbert and Mildred Lee Gallery, Waltham, Massachusetts, Curated by Odili Donald Odita
  • 2007. Equalizer, Studio Museum in Harlem, Project Room, New York
  • 2007. FLOW, Contemporary Art Center, CAC Kaplan Hall, Cincinnati
  • 2006. Fusion, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
  • 2005. Paradise, Wertz Contemporary, Atlanta
  • 2004. The Third Eye, Haunch of Vension (Galerie Judin Belot), Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2004. New Work, Galerie Schuster, Frankfurt, Germany, catalogue available
  • 2004. Notes From Paradise, Florence Lynch Gallery, New York
  • 2003. RESISTANCE, Matrix Art Project, Brussels, Belgium
  • 2003. Transformer, Hospitalhof, Stuttgart, Germany
  • 2003. New Work, Schmidt Contemporary Art, St. Louis, Missouri
  • 2002. Art Statements with Florence Lynch Gallery, Art Basel Miami Beach, Florida
  • 2002. New Work, Galerie Schustser & Scheuermann, Berlin, Germany
  • 2002. New Work, Galerie Schuster, Frankfurt, Germany
  • 2002. Interlude, WINTERGARTEN, Vienna, Austria, curated by Bettina Muller-Schelken
  • 2002. New Works, Miami Art Museum, Florida, curated by Cheryl Hartup
  • 2001. Life, Riva Gallery and Florence Lynch Gallery, New York, October–November 2001.
  • 2001. Paintings & Drawings, Florence Lynch Gallery, New York
  • 2000. Transfers/Odyssey, Kunsthalle, St. Gallen, Switzerland
  • 2000. Passport, Jenn Joy Gallery, San Francisco
  • 2000. Hofstra University, Alex Rosenberg Art Gallery, Calkins Hall, NY
  • 1999. Color Theory, Florence Lynch Gallery, New York
  • 1999. The Invisible Empire, Gallery 101, Ottawa-Ontario, Canada, January 23–February 27, 1999. (Catalogue)
  • 1992. The Jaws of Domesticity, der Kiosk, Installation, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Selected group exhibitions: 
  • 2012. Magical Visions, University Museums, University of Delaware, Newark, February 8–June 30, 2012.
  • 2011–2012. Karmic Abstraction, Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Philadelphia, November 1, 2011–January 15, 2012. (Catalogue; text by John Yau)
  • 2011. ARS 11, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland, April 15–November 27, 2011. (Catalogue)
  • 2011. Building The Contemporary Collection: Five Years of Acquisitions, Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, March 10–August 14, 2011. Curated by Trevor Schoonmaker.
  • 2011. Geography of Somewhere, Brodie/Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa, April 14–May 13, 2011. Curated by David Brodie. (Catalogue)
  • 2011. 20 Years Thami Mnyele Foundation, CBK Zuidoost, Amersterdam, March 12–April 29, 2011.
  • 2010–2011. The Global Africa Project, Museum of Art and Design, New York, November 17, 2010–May 15, 2011. Curated by Lowery Sims and Leslie King-Hammond. (Catalogue)
  • 2010. Wild is the Wind, Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), Georgia, January 8–February 28, 2010. Curated by Laurie Ann Farrell.
  • 2009. Wallworks, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
  • 2009. Velan Center for Contemporary Art, Torino, Italy
  • 2009. Poised, Solomon Projects, Atlanta
  • 2009. Strip/Stripe: a Project by Test, Emily Harvey Foundation, New York
  • 2009. Contemporary Art of Africa and the African Diaspora, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
  • 2008. Artcrush, Jenny Jaskey Gallery, Philadelphia
  • 2008. Paper Trail II: Passing Through Clouds, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, MA
  • 2008. Summer 2008/9, Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town
  • 2008. Tapping Currents: Contemporary African Art and Diaspora, The Nelson-Atkins
  • 2008. Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
  • 2007. Baroque-Ademia, Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, NY
  • 2007. Summer 2007/8 Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town
  • 2007. Think with the Senses - Feel with the Mind.  Art in the Present Tense, at the 52nd Venice Biennale in the Italian Pavilion, curated by Robert Storr
  • 2007. Post Painterly Abstraction, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia
  • 2007. The Color Line, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
  • 2007. Exquisite Crisis and Encounters, Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, New York
  • 2006. -poiesis, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, June 29–July 28, 2006.
  • 2006. Ordering & Seduction, Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2006. The Beautiful Game, Roebling Hall, Brooklyn
  • 2006. Nederland 1, Museum Gouda, The Netherlands
  • 2006. Represent: Selections from the Studio Museum in Harlem, Studio Museum, New York
  • 2006. The Shape of Jazz, Clifford Chance Projects, New York
  • 2006. Big Juicy Paintings and More: Highlights from the Permanent Collection, Miami Art Museum, FL
  • 2006. The Whole World is Rotten, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati
  • 2006. Diaspora and the Desert, at the Heard Museum, Phoenix
  • 2006. Synthetic Rhapsody: Florida in Miami, AR Contemporary Art, Milan
  • 2006. Distant Relatives/Relative Distance, Michael Stevenson Contemporary, Cape Town
  • 2006. New Order, Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich
  • 2006. Parallel Economies, Wertz Contemporary, Atlanta, February 3–March 4, 2006. (Catalogue; texts by Franklin Sirmans, Gean Moreno and Odili Donald Odita)
  • 2006. Luanda Triennale 2006; The Triennale of Luanda, Angola
  • 2006. Afro-PoMo, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
  • 2006–2003. Fiction of Authenticity: Contemporary Africa Abroad (travelling exhibition), Baffler Gallery, The Art Museum of the University of Houston, Texas, September–November 2006. Previously exhibited at: North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Regina Gouger Miller Gallery, Purnell Center for the Arts, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg, August 20–October 3, 2004; The Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, September 20, 2003–January 3, 2004. Curated by Shannon Fitzgerald and Tumelo Mosaka.
  • 2005. Surface Charge, Virginia Commonwealth University Museum, Richmond, September–December 4, 2005.
  • 2005. Round Leather Worlds, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, October 20, 2005–January 8, 2006. Curated by Dorothea Strauss
  • 2005. Collectors Show and Sale, Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • 2005. Wall Paintings, Virginia Commonwealth University Museum
  • 2005. The Shape of Colour: Excursions in Colour Field Art, 1950–2005, Art Gallery of Ontario
  • 2005. A Warlike People: Victims or Perpetrators, Monorchid Gallery, Phoenix
  • 2005–2003. Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, July–September 2003. Traveled to: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Seattle, April–July 2004; Barbican Art Gallery, London, September 9–October 24, 2004; Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, December 18, 2004–March 6, 2005. (Catalogue)
  • 2004. Flipside, Artists Space, New York
  • 2004. Visualizing Diaspora/Construct Self, GASP, Boston
  • 2004. Diaspora, GASP!, Boston
  • 2004. UnStaged, Arti et Amicitiae, Amsterdam
  • 2004. Dak’Art 2004 – Dakar Biennale of Contemporary African Art, Senegal, May 2004.
  • 2004. Anthology of Art, School of Fine Arts, Braunschweig
  • 2004. Transit: Abstracting the System, City Gallery at Chastain, Atlanta
  • 2004. Home Extension, University Art Museum, Albany, NY
  • 2003. Art Positions with Kevin Bruk Gallery, Art Basel Miami Beach, FL
  • 2003. Yellow Pages, Turm Gallery, Helmstedt, Germany
  • 2003. Specificity, Riva Gallery, New York
  • 2003. After Matisse & Picasso, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York
  • 2002. Collection in Context, The Studio Museum of Harlem, New York
  • 2002. Miami Currents, Miami Art Museum, FL
  • 2002. The Field’s Edge: Africa, Diaspora, Lens, University of South Florida
  • 2002. Painting As Paradox, Artist Space, New York
  • 2002. Peculiarly Pink, LUXE, New York
  • 2002. Irrational Propositions, POST, Los Angeles
  • 2002. Pictures, Greene/Naftali Inc., New York
  • 2001. Against the Wall: Painting Against the Grid, Surface and Frame, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia
  • 2001. Here And Now, Zacheta National Gallery, Warsaw
  • 2001. Material and Matter, The Studio Museum of Harlem, New York
  • 2001. Chelsea Rising, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans
  • 2001. Pleasures of Sight and States of Being: Radical Abstract Painting, Museum of Fine Arts, FSU
  • 2000. Kjbuh Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany, represented by Florence Lynch Gallery.
  • 2000. Out of America, Galerie Schuster & Scheuermann, Frankfurt & Berlin
  • 2000. Five Continents & One City, 3rd International Salon of Painting, Museum Mexico City
  • 2000. Transcending The Norm And Some, New Jersey City University, Lemmerman Gallery
  • 1999. Zeitwenden: Ausblick Ruckblick, Museum of Modern Art, Bonn, and Museum of Modern Art, Vienna.
  • 1999. 4X4, Alexandre de Folin Gallery, New York
  • 1999. IN-VISIBLE: Abstractions & Narratives; Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok, Poland, September 10–October 17, 1999.
  • 1999. Ideoscape; Boston Center for the Arts, MA
  • 1999. Civil Sex; (First Stages Collaboration w/ Brian Freeman), Public Theater, Shiva Gallery, New York
  • 1999. Kunstmarkt, Residenzschloss Dresden, Dresden
  • 1999. Outside Edge: A Survey, Unversite de Paris 1, Pantheon - La Sorbonne, Paris
  • 1999. Vanishing Pt.; Cynthia Broan Gallery, New York
  • 1999. You Are Here, Matrix Art Project (MAP), New York
  • 1999. Paradise 8 (Permanent Resident / Home And The World); Curatorial Project- Exit Art, New York
  • 1998. Crossing Lines; Art-In-General, New York
  • 1998. ART/OMI, International Artist Residency Exhibition; Ghent, NY
  • 1997. 2nd Johannesburg Biennial 1997, South Africa
  • 1997. Diversity In Contemporary Africa: Survey Exhibition of Contemporary African Art, The Ohio State University
  • 1997. Really; UnFinished Gallery; Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
  • 1997. Interior Life; Rush Arts, New York
  • 1997. Aphrodisia; The Alternative Museum; New York
  • 1996. One; Rush Fine Arts; New York
  • 1996. At the Foreground of Paths; Skoto Gallery, New York
  • 1996. Something I Saw In Brooklyn...; Galerie Elizabeth Valleix, Paris
  • 1995. Modern Life; Aljira Center for Contemporary Art, in conjunction with Newark Museum, NJ
  • 1995. Stitches; Four Walls; November 12, Brooklyn, NY
  • 1995. Gotcha!; Momenta Art, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
  • 1995. Celebrity'Hood; Longwood Arts Project, Bronx Council on the Arts, NY
  • 1995. Either/Or; Flamingo East, New York
  • 1995. Other Rooms; Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York
  • 1995. Split-Level; Art-In-General, New York
  • 1995. Unfolding Stories; John Jay College of Art, Music & Philosophy, City University of New York
  • 1995. Pseudo Museum; Jupiter Interactive Productions, New York
  • 1994. The Third Forum of Visual Art; Museum of Art Brasilia, Brazil
  • 1994. Fired: a Late Night Comedy Show; No Bias, North Bennington, VT
  • 1994. Fired: a Late Night Comedy Show; Thicket, New York
  • 1994. Go Back and Fetch It (It Means Sankofa); Gallery Annext and Rush Fine Arts, New York
  • 1993. Trespass-Beyond Borders; Right Bank Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
  • 1993. A Grand Tour; Swiss Institute, New York
  • 1993. FIAR International Prize- Art Under 30 (1991–1993), Milan, Rome, Paris, London, Los Angeles, New York; National Academy of Design, NY. New York. (Catalogue)
  • 1992. Without A Notion (A Painting Show); 88 Room, Boston

Awards and Grants:
  • 2007. Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant
  • 2004. The Thami Mnyele Foundation Grant for African Artists.
  • 2001. The Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant for Painting and Sculpture.
  • 2000. Nomination for Best Show of the Year by the International Association of Art Critics in New York.
  • ArtsLink Collaborative Projects Award in Warsaw, Poland for exhibition, "Here & Now".
  • 1994. Penny McCall Foundation Grant
Lectures and pane discussions:

2011. The Role of Art in Diplomacy, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Public collections and commissions:
American Council on Education, Washington, D.C.
Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
Miami Art Museum, Florida
Nasher Museum of Art, Durham, North Carolina
New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania
Princeton University, Butler College
Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, Nebraska
Standard Bank Art Collection, Johannesburg
Studio Museum in Harlem, New York
Ulrich Museum, Wichita State University, Kansas