Odili Donald Odita is an abstract painter whose work explores color both in the figurative historical context and in the sociopolitical sense. Odita has said, “Color in itself has the possibility of mirroring the complexity of the world as much as it has the potential for being distinct. 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.” Odita goes on to express his desire to speak positively about Africa and its rich culture through his work.
Odita has been commissioned to paint many large-scale wall installations, most recently including the Sarasota Museum of Art and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (both in 2019-2020). Other major commissions include the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (2015), Ezra Stiles College at Yale University, New Haven, CT (2015), George C. Young Federal Building and Courthouse in Orlando, FL (2013), United States Mission to the United Nations in New York (2011), and the New Orleans Museum of Art (2011). A self-titled monograph was published by Sternthal Books in 2009.
Odita has had several solo exhibitions in museums and institutions across the globe including Savannah College of Art and Design; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Studio Museum in Harlem; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita; and Princeton University.
Odita was born in Enugu, Nigeria and lives and works in Philadelphia. He has exhibited extensively in the United States and internationally. Indivisible and Invincible: Monument to Black Liberation and Celebration in the City of New Orleans was on view as part of Prospect.4, The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp. Other recent exhibitions include Heaven’s Gate, at Savannah College of Art and Design (2012-2013), Outside the Lines: Color Across the Collections, Newark Museum, New Jersey (2015-16), Represent: 200 Years of African American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia (2015); Evolving Geometries, Virginia Tech Center for the Arts (2014); and the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, as a part of the exhibition ARS 11 (2011). In 2007, Odita’s large installation Give Me Shelter was featured prominently in the 52nd Venice Biennale exhibition Think with the Senses, Feel with the Mind, curated by Robert Storr.
Jack Shainman Gallery has worked with Odili Donald Odita since 2006. Solo exhibitions at the gallery include Third Sun (2018), Velocity of Change (2016), Body & Space (2010), Fusion (2006). He has curated an exhibition at the gallery titled The Color Line (2007) and a solo exhibition This, That and the Other (2013).