I first came across Abe Odedina’s work on his insta page about a year ago. We recently met in person at the opening of his recent show ‘Eye to Eye’ and as a fan of his work, he is the natural choice as the 4th subject in the artists series.
Abe was born in Ibadan, Nigeria and currently lives in Brixton and Salvador Bahia. He is a trained architect and started painting on a trip to Brazil in 2007 where he was inspired by the popular arts of Bahia and Pernambuco. Now a full-time painter, he describes himself as a folk artist. The ideas inspiring his work are rooted in the rich figurative and oral traditions of African art, infused with a trace of magic realism. His work celebrates the power of the everyday and the mythical. He says he paints to communicate and that his work is made to stimulate conversation, embracing the understanding that a viewer will bring to the painting.
He paints with acrylic on plywood, making flat surfaces with vibrant, stylised subjects. I love his use of colour and use of symbolism to create figurative and imaginative pictorial statements. His bold and hybrid visual language has evolved from the energy of the streets and surfaces from cities like Lagos, Salvador de Bahia, and Port-au-Prince: the walls of temples, beer parlours, and love motels – advertisements for barbers, vulcanisers, and healers.
It was a pleasure to finally meet this prolific and talented visual storyteller and I look forward to collaborating with him In the near future.