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.
In recent years, Odita has been commissioned to paint several large-scale wall installations including The United States Mission to the United Nations in New York (2011), the Savannah College of Art and Design (2012), New York Presbyterian Hospital (2012), New Orleans Museum of Art (2011), Kiasma, Helsinki (2011) and the George C. Young Federal Building and Courthouse in Orlando, Florida (2013).
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 1966 in Enugu, Nigeria and lives and works in Philadelphia. He has been the recipient of a Penny McCall Foundation Grant in 1994, a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant in 2001, and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant in 2007. Also in 2007, his 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.
He has been represented at The Jack Shainman Gallery since 2006. Solo exhibitions at the gallery include 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).