A long form documentation of the book ‘Odili Donald Odita’, published in collaboration with Jack Shainman Gallery. Odili Donald Odita is a hard cover comprehensive monograph of the artists work – spanning from his early mixed media collages and painting practice in the 1990’s – to his latest three dimensional painting installations and more. Odili’s vibrant abstract paintings blur the borderlines of American, African, and Western European traditions, which according to Rob Storr, has led him to “rejuvenate abstract painting 100 years after its invention – and in the process create a culturally syncretic idiom that is all his own.”
The book’s discreet black and white cover betrays a striking panoply of colors, papers, and formats that make up the book’s 400+ pages. Mixing and layering drawings, geometric studies, paintings, installations, and texts creates momentary connections between different images – echoeing Odita’s thirty year artistic pursuit of fusing disparate and seperate colors into spiritually unified spaces.
The book’s design is inspired both by African and Amerian Design, mixing his paintings with a trove of materials from his ‘Black Album’, a collection of ads, photographs, and media clippings related to race and Black American culture that he has been collecting for years. Mixing his own work with popular representations of race contextualizes Odita’s abstract expressionism within a political context of struggle, race, and diaspora, resulting in a timely meditation on race in America.
Born in Nigeria, and raised in the United States, he describes an early interest in finding ways to simulateously embrace all his identities, a pursuit that has led to his ever evolving painting practice. The black silkscreen on the cloth covered board picks up on the photocopied black paper, which runs throughout the book. Odita used these in early installations, an element from his ongoing collection of media images and magazine clippings of Black American and African culture known as ‘The Black Album.’ Pairing these archival images with his own works emphasizes the political undercurrents which guide his abstract practice: The lack of hierarchy within the flat-color forms, the vanishing points of the early years which point outside of the white canvas of western painting , a trend echoed further by his use of wood veneer and another surfaces in lieu of white linen.
The curatorial essayswere laid out on spreads from Ebony Magazine, and while the images and captions were preserved, the original texts were erased and replaced with new ones, with Odilis work appearing on smaller shiny papers reminscent of the detachable mail in subscription advertisments in magazines from the 80’s and 90’s. Texts by Stamatina Gregory, Gregory Volk, and Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi, and a conversation between Odili and Ian Sternthal.
HardBound sewn signatures, Silkscreen on cloth, 22,9 x 30.5 mm, 408 Pages, ISBN 978-1-988689-06-7, Multiple Paper Formats, Printed on, 60 GSM IBO, 250 GSM Chromolux, 80 GSM MaxiOffset, 135 GSM Magno Gloss, edited and Designed by Ian Sternthal.