Toyin Ojih Odutola: The Firmament
Julia Felsenthal, Toyin Ojih Odutola, and John R. Stomberg
Published by the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2018, 20 pages
Stories take center stage in Toyin Ojih Odutola’s drawings. She catches her characters at quiet moments captured from otherwise rich and complex lives. Short on specifics and long on allusion, the narratives she evokes suggest a wide emotional range. We are not meant to know exactly what takes place in these lives, but we are invited into their private spaces and we share an implied intimacy with many of them. Ojih Odutola allows us to peek, but not pry, into the lives of those who occupy her personal firmament. The artist establishes a compassionate confrontation between viewer and subject through the use of scale and through her extraordinary mark-making technique that draws us close to her surfaces. Many of the drawings are life-sized, some even full-length. This reinforces an uncanny sense that we share a space with her subjects; it also establishes an equivalence between viewer and subject.