Abe Odedina describes himself as a folk artist – yet, implicitly and explicitly, Odedina’s practice questions the validity of 'folk art' as a discrete category. Odedina’s work offers objects which embrace their objecthood: a gesture both radical and very simple indeed.
‘I am not persuaded by the concerns of the formal art project. I can be interested in it and amused by it, but I don’t value it over and above all else’, says the artist. Painting on board rather than canvas, Odedina’s compositions embody all the solidity — and practicality — of shop fronts or municipal murals. Compositional elements of Renaissance portraiture, devotional painting and even pop art frame figures from diverse mythologies (Yoruba, Haitian, Ancient Greek) as well as passers-by or characters plucked from the artist’s own imagination.
‘If, like me, you don’t have the discipline or the interest in holding these clear categories,’ says Odedina, ‘then maybe it’s better to enjoy that morphing from hard facts to poetry, from something to nothing.’