Osi Audu “Dialogues with African Art”

Skoto Gallery

poster for Osi Audu “Dialogues with African Art”
[Image: "Self-Portrait with Tabwa Hairstyle" (2017) graphite and pastel on paper mounted on canvas, 15 x 22 in.]

This event has ended.

Skoto Gallery presents Dialogues with African Art, an exhibition of recent drawings and paintings by the Nigerian-born artist Osi Audu. This is his fourth solo exhibition at the gallery.

Osi Audu’s work has consistently maintained a persistent focus on the dynamic relationship between shape, form and color while remaining firmly rooted in the Yoruba philosophical concept that the human head encompasses a duality of spirit and matter, mind and body. The notion of the subconscious is a powerful one and can be very much seen in his work’s high originality. To the artist: “There is a Yoruba thought that consciousness, referred to as the “head,” has both a physical dimension called the “outer head” and a non-physical one: “the inner head.” The visual implications of concepts like this are what I find intriguing. The title Self-Portrait in my work is about the portrait of the intangible self, rather than a literal portrait of the artist”.

This exhibition of twenty strong works build on the artist’s exploration of abstract geometric possibilities in traditional African art. While he does not consciously seek continuity with Africa’s rich cultural past, reveal astonishing affinities with different aspects of it, resulting in surprising consonances. One has the sense that he is constantly searching for the potentials of his medium and letting the process uncover an image that seems to come to the surface after long gestation. And as stated by the artist regarding his creative process: “I explore the light sheen of graphite, the matte, light absorbing quality of black pastel, the white of paper and canvas, as well as the visually affecting interactions of colors to investigate form and its evocative potential to suggest or hint at something about the shape of the head”. Audu’s work explores ancient and contemporary concepts and aesthetics, combining rigorous compositional organization, sensitivity to texture and tonality with a deep understanding of art historical precedents to create work that is highly characteristic and clearly recognizable.

Osi Audu, a Nigerian-born artist, whose work has been shown in numerous international exhibitions including Kwangju Biennale, Venice Biennial, The Africa-Africa exhibition at the Tobu Museum, Japan and the Museum of the Mind at the British Museum was educated in Nigeria and the United States. His work is in several public and private collections including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art, Washington DC; The Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey, The British Museum, Horniman Museum and Wellcome Trust, all in London; The Hood Museum at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire and the Mott-Warsh Collection, Flint, Michigan. Corporate collections include SONY Classical, New York; Fidelity Investment Corporation, Boston, Massachusetts, and the Schmidt Bank in Germany. He presently lives and work in the Hudson Valley, New York.

Audu is, in effect, reclaiming abstraction. Through the language of abstraction, Audu seeks to create a container or a frame for the intangible that is the self. In dialogue with works of African art that are themselves symbolic representations of concepts, he situates his geometric abstraction firmly within African ontologies. And in doing so, he also makes tangible the intangible, or perhaps hidden, the presence of African sculpture within the legacy of Western modernism.
- Christa Clarke, Ph. D., Senior Curator, Arts of Global Africa, Newark Museum

This new corpus builds on the “Self-Portrait” series, which made its debut in 2015 and in which Audu considers the psychological makeup of the abstract or anonymous individual. In the new works, he extends this premise, however, to a consideration of the dialogical self. It is one in which he seeks the recognizable but also the collective as revealed in historical African art forms in dialogue with the artist.
- Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Ph. D., Curator of African art, Cleveland Museum of Art

Osi Audu’s own paintings and drawings are composed of bending plains of primary colors or matte black, pastel and glistening graphite (resembling positive or negative space), together they suggest the conundrum of the two-sided Moebius that can confuse interior and exterior or arcane geometric diagrams and become inscrutably beautiful machines of human consciousness, performing a kind of geometric yoga.
- Glen Mannisto, Poet, art journalist, and frequent contributor to Detroit Art Review

It is not difficult to notice how he perceptively deconstructs a Yoruba Shango staff (figs. 1a, 1b), Egungun headdress (figs. 2a, 2b), Ejagham headdress (figs. 3a, 3b) or a Tabwa figure (figs. 4a, 4b) into amalgamation of simple geometric shapes, complexly combined and manipulated to achieve both greater aesthetic and intellectual effect.
- Nii O. Quarcoopome, Ph. D., Co-Chief Curator and Department Head, Africa, Oceanic and the Indigenous Americas, Detroit Institute of Arts.



from October 25, 2018 to December 08, 2018

Opening Reception on 2018-10-25 from 18:00 to 20:00


Osi Audu

  • Facebook


    All content on this site is © their respective owner(s).
    New York Art Beat (2008) - About - Contact - Privacy - Terms of Use