Osi Audu Exhibition

Skoto Gallery

poster for Osi Audu Exhibition
[Image: Osi Audu "Masked Head V" (2021) pastel and yarn on paper mounted on canvas, 36 x 40 in.]
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Ends in 42 days

Skoto Gallery presents Masked Heads, an exhibition of recent mixed media works by the Nigerian-born artist Osi Audu. This is his fifth solo exhibition at the gallery.

In his new body of work titled Masked Heads, Osi Audu investigates the global phenomenon of mask-wearing as a preventive measure against Covid-19, and the broader significance of facial coverings, including in traditional contexts, particularly the Egungun Masquerade culture in Nigeria. Audu is interested in the duality by which masks, whilst concealing the identity of the wearer simultaneously seem to reveal something of the subconscious. 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 notion of the subconscious is a powerful one and can be very much seen in his work’s high originality.

The fourteen mixed media works in this exhibition, each made with pastel and yarn on paper mounted on canvas, are imbued with tonal subtleties that emphasize relationships not only within the work but beyond it, and openness to aesthetic vocabulary that is focused on shapes and colors and the essential form of natural objects. By linking ancient and contemporary concepts in his work, Osi Audu seeks to expand the boundaries between art and consciousness.
Osi Audu’s work has been shown in numerous international exhibitions including Kwangju Biennale; Venice Biennale; The Africa-Africa exhibition at the Tobu Museum, Japan; and The Museum of the Mind, at the British Museum, London. His work is in several public and private collections including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art, Washington DC; The Newark Museum of Art, Newark, New Jersey; The British Museum, The Horniman Museum, and Wellcome Trust Collection and Museum, all three in London; The Hood Museum at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire; Mott-Warsh Collection, Flint, Michigan; and The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, SUNY New Paltz, New Paltz, New York. Corporate collections include SONY Classical, New York; Fidelity Investment Corporation, Boston, Massachusetts; Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft Art Collection), Redmond, WA; and the Schmidt Bank in Weiden, Germany. He was educated in Nigeria and the United States; and he presently lives and works in the Hudson Valley, New York.

Osi Audu’s work is demonstrating how the Covid-19 pandemic has created a new aesthetic – the simultaneous projection of our inner and outer selves, two identities – the masked and unmasked. Like the Yoruba egungun (masked ancestors from the other world), we are now all maskers with concealed powers. More than a function to protect one from the pandemic, ‘Masked Heads’ hints at a level of artistic creativity never before encountered.

The artist deals with oju-inu (inner eye, insight), and oju-ona (design-consciousness). Mask making requires oju-inu, a special kind of understanding of the person for whom the mask is designed as well as the special pandemic situation that has triggered its manufacture. It is with this intellect that the artist can perceive the individualized form, color, substance and texture of the mask which the Yoruba call oju-ode (outer perception).

Oju-ona (design-consciousness) is pivotal to the design/innovation resulting from this new aesthetic adventure. The mask must be appropriate to the character of the mask wearer and not just innovation for its own sake. The mask-wearer’s ori-inu (inner spiritual head) and ori-ode (outer physical recognizable head), the tangible and intangible, the conscious and unconscious must fit.

Rowland Abiodun
John C. Newton Professor of Art and Art History
Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002



from November 11, 2021 to January 08, 2022

Opening Reception on 2021-11-11 from 18:00 to 20:00


Osi Audu


http://www.skotogallery.com (venue's website)



Venue Hours

From 11:00 To 18:00
Closed on Mondays, Sundays


Address: 529 W 20th St., 5 Fl., New York, NY 10011
Phone: 212-352-8058 Fax: 212-352-8079

Between 10th and 11th Ave. Subway: C/E to 23rd Street, A/C/E to 14th Street, L to 8th Avenue.

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