Toyin Ojih Odutola’s “To Wander Determined” opens at the Whitney


A detail of Toyin Ojih Odutola’s (b. 1985), Pregnant, 2017. Charcoal, pastel and pencil on paper, 74 1/2 x 42 in. ©Toyin Ojih Odutola.  Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

If you’re still buzzing over the fact that former President Barack Obama picked the iconic, cooler-than-any-of-us-can-ever-dream-of-being portraitist Kehinde Wiley to paint his official photo for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, then you’ll probably take an interest in artist Toyin Ojih Odutola, whose first solo museum exhibit opened at the Whitney on Friday, Oct. 20.

Nigerian-born Ojih Odutola’s works are mostly rich, life-sized canvasses painted in charcoal and pastels, portraits that depict thoughtful individuals in mostly solitary moments. Similar to Wiley, Ojih Odutola’s portraits are enigmatic in the way they fuse realistic, everyday scenes with thick, polychromatic colors that swirl, dot, and glow in unexpected places. To Wander Determined will feature mostly new works from Ojih Odutola, in addition to smaller works from earlier exhibits.

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