(MAPS)

(MAPS), 2011. 

Through an extraordinarily detailed, almost obsessive approach, Odutola explores various interpretations of blackness in image-making using ball point pens, ink and paper. Through monochromatic, tonal density she explores and expands upon these histories and representations. A relentless layering, mapping and cropping of each portrait allows for a tension to reveal itself, where the contradictions become almost too heavy and burdensome for the fragile paper to bear. The figurative subjects are impenetrable, solid, and embossed into the picture plane. Odutola often melds snapshots of friends and models with her own likeness. In so doing, she investigates whether the place which one inhabits (a skin, a locale, a presence) can simultaneously exist within and outside of a definition. The portrayal of the subject does not specifically belong to any locus, yet is inherently connected to the human dermal landscape. 

The sense of place and presence are important conceptual themes throughout Odutola’s work. Growing up as a child in a perpetually transient mode, She describes the allowance of ‘context’, to become permeable, flexible and impermanent, somewhat precarious and at times unimportant. Through a frequent search for security in decontexualized surroundings, Odutola employs emptied blank spaces that render her subjects neither within nor without. She creates a lexicon from the laborious, time-consuming process of meticulous mark-making, prying at the idea of what her skin means to her and claiming her own space. Odutola roams within this open expanse, a part of it, regardless of the changes which may befall everything around us and the histories and representations navigated by us all.

— Jack Shainman Gallery