• UPCOMING - "Untold Stories" solo exhibition at CAM St. Louis

    Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO

    16 January - 28 February 2015

    "Untold Stories is a series of mixed-media drawings—created specifically for this exhibition—by emerging Nigerian-born, New York-based artist Toyin Odutola. Featuring works on paper made with charcoal, pastel marker, graphite, and acrylic ink, the presentation considers the nature of portraiture and storytelling and includes text panels for the first time, bringing the idea of character and narrative to the fore in a new way. Known for her heavily worked portraits, Odutola’s drawings comprise a variety of mark-making—incorporating short, repeated hatches with sinuous outlines—that build a richly detailed yet simultaneously abstracted image. Figures are surrounded by backgrounds that range from unmarked, pure paper to bold, multifaceted patterns. While the features of Odutola’s sitters are minutely rendered, the dark tones of their faces and bodies create a flattening of the image that borders on silhouette. The resulting likenesses are at once descriptive and emotionally charged. In Untold Stories, Odutola juxtaposes closeness with distance and the familiar with the foreign. In new diptychs and triptychs, the artist places stand-alone portraits and still lifes with text-only drawings, creating narratives that rest intriguingly between the truthful and tangible and the suspect and elusive. Within the space of the exhibition, the works activate one another, and the audience is invited to create connections, piecing together their own stories."

    Toyin Odutola: Untold Stories is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Lisa Melandri, Executive Director.

    More information
  • Works by Toyin Odutola at ARTBASEL MIAMI

    Jack Shainman Gallery is showing work by Toyin Odutola at the Art Basel Miami Beach art fair.

    3 - 7 December 2014
  • UPCOMING - "Mosaic Project," a two-person show with Lydia Panas

    Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, Lancaster, PA.

    Opening reception on 3 October 2014, from 5 - 9 pm.

    Exhibition run until 14 November 2014.

    More information
  • ARTINVESTOR Magazine (GER) - "Toyin Odutola"


    ArtInvestor Magazine
    No. 05 / 14 (August 2014)


→ Read PDF copy of the article here
  • UPCOMING - "LIKE THE SEA" solo show at Jack Shainman Gallery

    1 - 31 May 2014

    Opening reception at 524 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011 from 6 - 8 pm.

    Jack Shainman Gallery is showing work by Toyin Odutola at the Frieze NY art fair.

    9 - 12 May 2014
  • UPCOMING - "BLACK EYE" Group Show

    3 May - 24 May 2014

    Opening reception at 57 Walker Street, New York, NY
  • MODERN PAINTERS - "Portraits of the Artist: Toyin Odutola's rich figures"

    by Michael Slenske, Modern Painters
April 2014 

    Read PDF copy of the article here
  • UPCOMING - "SouthXEast: Contemporary Southeastern Art" group show

    22 February - 27 March 2014

    Florida Atlantic University
  • ARTnews - "Ballpoint Magic: Making Cutting-Edge Art with Ballpoint Pens"

    by Trent Morse 

    ARTnews Magazine
January 2014 

    Read article at
  • HI-FRUCTOSE - "Toyin Odutola’s Thought-Provoking New Drawing Series"

    by Nastia Voynovskaya
    Hi-Fructose Magazine
1 January 2014 

    "Though visually-pleasing and illustrative at a first glance, Toyin Odutola’s drawings are constructed on a foundation of hard-hitting critical theory about how we view race. The Nigerian-born, American artist’s works are rich with ink. Odutola focuses on her subjects’ skin, outlining ridges and contours with ribbon-like sections that make the work appear almost sculptural despite its flatness. Odutola’s focus on the skin is not accidental — she has stated that she wants to trace the skin, like a cartographer, in order to map out the idiosyncrasies of each individual subject. In doing so, Odutola meditates on the idea of “blackness” and how black people are portrayed and perceived. 

Since we covered Odutola in 2012, she has created several new series. “Gauging Tone,” which features subjects drawn with a metallic sharpie on black board, focuses on issues concerning the ways black people perceive one another. The black and gold series “Of Another Kind” nods to the excessive, ornate aesthetic trends of the Renaissance. But Odutola lifts her subjects from a context of servitude ubiquitous in European art history (think, Manet’s "Olympia"), removing them from a specific cultural setting and opening up possibilities for their individual identities. Odutola currently has a solo show on view at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, on view through January 25."

    Read article at

    6 December 2013 - 25 January 2014

    Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, IN
  • INTERVIEW MAGAZINE - "Toyin Odutola and the public struggle"

Interview Magazine

    3 December 2013

    "Last week, 28-year-old artist Toyin Odutola was home for Thanksgiving, back in her childhood bedroom, where, as she recently posted on Instagram, 'My past efforts haunt me. Ha!' Odutola isn't afraid to blog about her failures, successes, and everything in between; indeed, she says that her work is all about process. Now, 13 of her arresting pen-and-ink portraits, which caught the art world's attention after a sold-out show in Chelsea last spring, are the focus of Odutola's first solo museum exhibition, "The Constant Struggle," opening at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art on December 6...."

    Read article at
  • Works by Toyin Odutola at ARTBASEL MIAMI

    Jack Shainman Gallery is showing work by Toyin Odutola at the Art Basel Miami Beach art fair.

    5 - 8 December 2013
  • NOWNESS - "On Collaboration: Solange Knowles x Toyin Odutola"

    "Inspiration" - On Collaboration: Solange Knowles x Toyin Odutola in conversation on

    A film by Johnnie Shand Kydd


"The New York Pair Share Their Mutual Appreciation in the Last of Our Series with EDITION Hotels...."

    Watch on
  • UPCOMING - "Six Draughtsmen" at MoCADA

    24 October 2013 - 19 January 2014
    (Extended to April 2014)

    Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts
    80 Hanson Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217
  • LIFE + TIMES - "A Look At Artist Toyin Odutola’s 'My Country Has No Name' Exhibit"

    by Tamara Warren 

    Jay Z's Life+Times
    29 May 2013 

    "Toyin Odutola illustrates the enduring and perceptive power of the pen in My Country Has No Name, a new exhibition of her work on view at the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City. Odutola was born in Nigeria, raised in the south and is a recent graduate of California College of the Arts...."

    Read article at
  • SOCIETE PERRIER - "Toyin Odutola Captures The Multitudes Within Our Skin"

    by Emily Colucci 

    Société Perrier
    5 June 2013

    "In his iconic Black Skin, White Masks, Franz Fanon explains, "I am black, not because of a curse, but because my skin has been able to capture all the cosmic effluvia. I am truly a drop of sun under the earth," which almost perfectly describes artist Toyin Odutola's exhibition My Country Has No Name at the Jack Shainman Gallery. Transforming the human body into a luminous, rich and colorful visual landscape, Odutola's gorgeous and thought-provoking show, open until June 29, presents Odutola's deft artistic investigation into blackness and identity through her intricate line work...."

    Read article at
  • ART SLANT - "My Country Has No Name: Interview with Toyin Odutola"

    by Alexandra Giniger
    15 July 2013

    "New York, Jul. 2013--Since receiving her MFA from California College of the Arts one year ago, Toyin Odutola has garnered much buzz as a young artist on the rise who maintains a fresh perspective on the flexible natures of race, identity, and nationality. Her process and progress are readily visible through her many social media outlets, which display her painstakingly prolific self-portraits. 
But who is the woman behind the work? From where has she sprung? Born in Nigeria, Odutola currently lives and works in Alabama. So, when I learned that she would be in New York for the opening reception of her solo exhibition, My Country Has No Name, at Jack Shainman Gallery in May, I jumped at the opportunity for a conversation on art, literature, and the politics of transnational identities...."

    Read article at
  • IRAAA - "My Country Has No Name"

    by fayemi shakur 

    (The International Review of African American Art)

    12 August 2013

After 9/11, Nigerian-born artist Toyin Odutola noticed a shift starting in American society. Nationhood and patriotism suddenly took precedence over upholding the principles of a multi-cultural society. Odutola’s perception was that the American spirit, once symbolized as a melting pot, changed; in her eyes it became a lie. 'I remember as a teenager feeling pressured to be a certain way, to be very American and I knew that didn’t make sense. I was like a lot of people—a combination of two very divergent cultures,' Odutola recalls...."

    Read article at Iraaa.Museum.Hamptonu.Edu
  • SAINT HERON - "Interview: Toyin Odutola"

    by Justin Allen
Saint Heron
    18 December 2013 

    “'People are so quick, especially now in the age of the selfie, to put up a pose and assert this idea of what they think they should be,' artist Toyin Odutola tells me of photographing her subjects. 'I hold the camera until they let go. That’s when I capture that moment in their default position, when they’re relaxed.' 

Moving to Alabama from Ife, Nigeria at a young age, commentary stateside on Odutola’s skin color, from both people of other races as well as black peers, revealed to her the concept of race as an invention—one she, through her work, attempts to challenge. 

Now 28 years-old and represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City, the artist’s ink-layered depictions of her subjects—black and sinewy, familiar and foreign—has garnered her praise both in the art world and through social media where she documents her process. Concerned with identity and reinvention, through her work she wrestles with preconceived notions of race and gender, asking us, the viewer, to reconsider our perceptions of others and imagine something different...."

    Read article at
  • COOL HUNTING - "Toyin Odutola: My Country Has No Name"

    by James Thorne
    16 May 2013


The Nigerian-born, Alabama-based artist discusses process, identity and selfies...."

    Read article at
  • TIME OUT NY - "Toyin Odutola, 'My Country Has No Name'"

    Time Out: New York - Critic’s Pick
Wed. 29 May 2013 

    "Time Out says: The artist, who was born in Nigeria and currently calls Alabama home, specializes in intricately rendered works on paper, featuring figures and self-portraits. Her highly unusual cross-hatching technique lends a shimmering kaleidoscopic effect, in which lines in pencil or pen and ink are laid down to resemble shining, differently colored strands of hair or sinew. The amount of detail involved is extraordinary, and the subjects, usually silhouetted against white, appear as if they were portals into a parallel universe or dimension of space."
  • UPCOMING - "MY COUNTRY HAS NO NAME" solo exhibition at Jack Shainman Gallery

    16 May - 29 June 2013

    513 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011

    Opening reception on the 16th from 6 - 8 pm.
  • NYTimes - "Reflections"

    The New York Times
3 January 2013 


    "The young Ms. Odutola is a Nigerian-born portraitist who works in blackness and light. Taking family members and friends as sitters, she begins each bust-length likeness with a loose sketch done in color washes, then fills it with patterns of tight, narrow, precisely drawn linear bands done in ballpoint pen. 

The bands cross over and under one another like weaving or like the tissues and sinews of musculature, creating subtle highlights where they curve, giving the skin a subtle luster. And no matter how dense and black looking the patterns are, the facial features of the sitters come through in minute detail, literally eyelash by eyelash. 

In one sense Ms. Odutola is interested in examining notions of blackness as a race-defining attribute, one that can make people, depending on the context, either invisible or vulnerable. Certain other, older artists, notably Kerry James Marshall, have done remarkable and complex things with the concept of blackness as a graphic marker of race, and Ms. Odutola, whose work can be seen in a group show called 'Fore' at the Studio Museum in Harlem, takes the idea in a direction of her own. The blackness in her portraits is not blackness at all, in an essential, finite way. 

The ballpoint ink colors she uses range from copper-brown to deep blue. Her sitters range across the ethnic spectrum. The colors that begin each portrait show through at the end. Beaming through chinks in the dark weave they look like stars in a night sky or filtered rainbows.”
  • THE VILLAGE VOICE - "Q&A: Toyin Odutola on Drawing, Chinese Art, and What It Really Means to Have a Big Head"

Wednesday, 7 November 2012 



The portrait artist readies for a group show at the Studio Museum in Harlem...."

    Read article at
  • THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - "'The Moment for Ink': Show frees artist"

SF GATE (The San Francisco Chronicle)

    Published online - 5:09 pm, Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - and in print.

    "Arrayed among the more traditional sumi ink works at the Chinese Culture Foundation's group show, 'The Moment for Ink,' Toyin Odutola's dark, textured ballpoint-ink-and-marker drawings pop - in their intensity, richness and blackness. The very qualities of the work of the Nigerian-born artist, who is often slotted into shows as an African American woman, make this exhibition a special one for her...."

    Read article at
  • AFRICA IS A COUNTRY - "Redefining 'Blackness': An interview with Toyin Odutola"


    Africa is a Country
    18 December 2012 

    "The richly layered portraits of Nigerian-American artist Toyin Odutola have been on the Africa is a Country radar for quite some time. Painstakingly created with marker and ballpoint pen, Toyin’s drawings have been making waves in the art world and across social media platforms. Aesthetically striking in their own right, Toyin’s unique style sparks important questions about the concept of identity. Her pieces tempt us to wonder about the identities that society projects onto us and more reflectively, how we have been sculpted by time into who we are at any given moment. 

2012 has been an important year for Toyin’s progression as an artist. She received her MFA from California College of the Arts, published her first book of drawings — Alphabet, completed two residencies, including one at the legendary Tamarind Institute and exhibited works in numerous group shows including the “Fore” exhibition which is currently running at the Studio Museum in Harlem until March 10, 2013. With a major solo exhibition lined up at the Jack Shainman Gallery in April, the year 2013 is poised to be quite notable for Toyin as well. 

We spoke with Toyin about her thoughts on post-racial aesthetics, perceptions of “African” art, androgynous figures and the nostalgic crystallization of past selves through portraiture...."

    Read article at
  • FORBES MAGAZINE - "'30 Under 30' List, 2012"

    FORBES MAGAZINE: Art & Style Category

    Toyin Odutola, Artist, 27


"Using ballpoint pens and other drawing utensils, Nigerian-born Odutola makes intricate portraits from photographs. She has had a one-woman show at the Jack Shainman gallery in New York City, and exhibited in group shows at the Menil Collection in Houston and at the Studio Museum in Harlem." 

 → Read article at
  • VOGUE ITALIA - "Toyin Odutola: Drawing as a tool for change"


    Vogue Italia (
    9 June 2011

    "It must be every artists dream, that whilst obsessing over a piece of work in the studio some magic is taking place in the outside world that lands you a gallerist and a sold out show in New York. 

For Toyin Odutola, her dream came true, one year into graduate school at California College of the Arts the Nigerian born artist can barely contain her excitement...."

    Read article at
  • ASIAN ART MUSEUM, SF - "Artist Toyin Odutola’s New Rendition"

    by Marc Mayer

    Asian Art Museum Blog
30 August 2013


Toyin Odutola and I were planning her project for the museum’s Artists Drawing Club since last October, but we did not meet in person until the day before her event last week. Toyin graduated from the MFA program at California College of the Arts in May 2012 and moved to New York City this spring. All of our planning for this program took place over the phone, which might have been difficult if not for Toyin’s use of social media to document her art practice, an extremely helpful way to convey and understand her process. It almost felt like I was in her studio. This sensation of close connection through social media might seem like a novel and trendy idea, especially considering that she was featured in an ARTnews article, 'What I Like About You: Artists to Follow on Instagram.' That type of documentation can provide practical, important information as well as reach a broad audience for her work...."

    Read article on
  • CCA - "Alumna Toyin Odutola: A Rising Star with Her Feet on the Ground"

    California College of the Arts: News
18 July 2013 

    "The work of 28-year-old Nigerian-born artist Toyin Odutola (MFA 2012) may literally be black portraiture with ballpoint pen ink, but speaking figuratively, her work speaks volumes. Addressing issues of identity, race, and nationhood, her art resonates strongly with her audiences. Since graduating from CCA, Odutola has had two solo shows at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, and was featured as one of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” art and design stars. The talented and down-to-earth artist credits much of her success to friend and mentor, alumnus Hank Willis Thomas (MFA 2004), her dedicated professors, and fellow students...."

    Read article at
  • "THE MOMENT FOR INK" - Exhibition Catalog

    by Sharon E. Bliss, Joseph Z. Chang, Abby Chen, Charles Egan, Britta Erickson, Mark Dean Johnson, Alicia Kolbus, Jianhua Shu, Mabel Teng, Leslie Wong and Jay Xu. 

    Exhibition Catalog, published by San Francisco State University with the Chinese Cultural Center of San Francisco, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and the Silicon Valley Asian Art Center. (2013) 

    Essay - "Inkpossible: Kiki Smith, Nancy Chan, Toyin Odutola, Jonathan Tyler Skeleton Wallraven, Xie Xiaoze" by Abby Chen


p. 128-139


→ Read excerpt of text here
  • "FORE" - Exhibition catalog

    This publication was prepared on the occasion of the exhibition Fore at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. (2012)


Essay: Toyin Odutola: "From Quiet Subtleties Come Shared Revelation" by Adwoa Adusei 

    Read page text here
  • "THE PROGRESS OF LOVE" - Exhibition Companion Book

    by Kristina Van Dyke, Bisi Silva, et al. 

    Published by The Menil Foundation, Inc., Houston, and The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. 

Distributed by Yale University Press. 


Excerpt: 84-85. Print.


→ Visit exhibition website here
  • ARTnews - "Toyin Odutola: Pen Pals"

    "Critic's Pick" 

    (March 2012)

    Read article here
  • LIFE + TIMES - "Sink Into the Ink"

    Jay Z's 
    23 September 2011 

    "TOYIN ODUTOLA makes highly detailed ballpoint pen, ink and marker drawings that accentuate the complex nature and texture of skin. 'I’m interested in the skin as a narrative for people to explore,' she says. 'I honestly believe skin is a geography that we explore. Each skin is different, even if it’s in the same race....'”

    Read article at
  • DAILY SERVING - "#Hashtags: Rejecting a Binary Argument with Toyin Odutola"


    Daily Serving
    21 September 2012

    "Back in early March 2012, I reviewed Mark Bradford’s solo show at SFMOMA and learned shortly thereafter that the oft-repeated narrative about the circumstances of his early work—that he grew up in poverty in a depressed African-American neighborhood of Los Angeles—was simply not true (he was raised in Santa Monica, an affluent suburb). Given that I’ve heard this myth repeated even by knowledgeable curators, I shared my concerns with artist Toyin Odutola and was surprised to learn that even though she is in the early stages of her career, she is already encountering similar circumstances. Creating the narrative around art, framing its situation and contingencies, is always a tricky endeavor, but perhaps more so when the artist is of color and the myth-makers are white. I set out to talk with Odutola in more depth about her own work and process, and the way in which an artist—especially a successful artist of color—may or may not be able to control the story of her own work. In addition to being talented and modest (always a winning combination), Odutola is an articulate and energetic speaker. What follows is part of our conversation from mid-July...."

    Read article at
  • "From the desk of... Toyin Odutola"

    From the desk of...
    29 May 2012

    “'These photos capture two studios I worked in while I studied at the California College for the Arts for my MFA. They are located in San Francisco, CA. I spend a great deal of time in my studio, so they’ve both been like homes to me. There are pictures of my archive walls and details of works in progress.' -Toyin Odutola was born in Ife, Nigeria and was largely raised in Alabama. She received her MFA at the California College of the Arts in Painting and Drawing. Her work often centers around the possibility that an individual’s subjectivity, various realities and experiences can literally be drawn onto the diverse terrain of one’s skin. Odutola’s first solo exhibition, “(MAPS),” debuted in 2011 at the Jack Shainman Gallery, New York...."

    Read article at
  • ARTFORUM INT'L - "Top Ten"


    ARTFORUM International
(April 2012)



    "Born in Nigeria and raised in Alabama, Odutola now lives in San Francisco, where she is completing her MFA at California College of the Arts. She will tell you that skin has geography, and it is this territory that she explores through portraiture. Rendered in ballpoint pen, her subjects are obsessive and intricate. Every stroke is drawn with care--thousands and thousands of the lines create the almost completely saturated bodies of her stark figures."

  • NYTimes - "Museum & Gallery Listings, 17 - 23 June 2011"

    The New York Times
    16 June 2011 

    "★ Toyin Odutola: ‘(MAPS)’ (through June 25) Using ballpoint pens and other drawing utensils, this young artist, born in Nigeria and living in San Francisco, makes a polished New York solo debut with small portraits. Each one, derived from photographs of friends but incorporating Ms. Odutola’s features, looks to have been weaved from strips of dark, ductile, sinewy material, then finished with hair-fine details. Jack Shainman Gallery, 513 West 20th Street , (212) 645-1701,"
  • ARISE MAGAZINE - "Between the Lines"

    ARISE Magazine
    Issue 13 (August 2011)

    "Toyin Odutola creates viscerally stunning, intricately detailed images that are redefining the perception of contemporary African art, how we look at the world and how we view ourselves. The Nigerian-born, American-raised artist employs a painstakingly thorough creative process that uses rudimentary tools – ballpoint pens, ink and paper – to investigate perceptions of ‘blackness’, gender and place. Seems like a handful for an artist who is just going into the second year of her Masters in Fine Arts at California College of the Arts. Already Odutola’s street buzz has caught the eye of both major collectors and celebrities, such as Solange Knowles. This spring she opened her first major solo exhibition, (MAPS), at New York’s Jack Shainman gallery. As expected, it was an instant hit. Since 2004 San Francisco-based Odutola’s artistic practice has evolved from imaginary into a more sequential cinematic narrative, featuring herself as the subject. Her work, both simple and detailed at the same time, stimulates a dialogue between the artist and the viewer. And it has a rawness – in part due to the medium of ball[point] pen, part due to its microscopic imagery – that leaves the viewer in an emotional trance as they seek to decode it. What is striking about Odutola’s work is the absence of the typical cultural tropes associated with many popular contemporary African artists. 'If I were too specific about my Nigerian identity, it would become this [eroticization] of Nigeria,' she says. 'I don’t feel like I’m an accurate participant in creating that narrative.' Using her artistic platform as a conduit for women to create their own narrative, Odutola believes that, 'we are active participants in decolonizing our own spaces' and her art is a catalyst that ignites fresh debate around concepts of self. Certainly at the show opening in May, there was much discussion about what her imagery represented, literally, between the lines. 'In many ways, it’s an exploration of the limits and possibilities of contradiction,' she told Think Africa Press. 'The ability to transfer experiential geography onto a person never fails to excite me.'"
  • THINK AFRICA PRESS - "Interview with artist Toyin Odutola"


    Think Africa Press
    30 May 2011

    "Just before the opening of Toyin Odutola's first solo show at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, I had an extended and unusually honest chat with the young artist, discussing the 'anatomy' of her technique, perceptions of 'Blackness', politics of identity and artistic convergence amongst many, many things. And behind the "hottest young African import" to the US, I discovered an artist that is painfully aware of every aspect, every second of her creative process...."

    Read article at