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Odili Donald Odita, Over Here, Over There , 2001. Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 104 inches (213.4 x 264.2 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum. Gift of Marjorie (P’16, P’19, P’19) and Michael Levine (T’84, P’16, P’19, P’19). Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.
Odili Donald Odita’s abstract paintings are a unique combination of Western modernism and African aesthetics that reflect equally his Nigerian heritage and North American upbringing. This early work, made up of flat horizontal strips of bold color, resembles a landscape, with a bright blue strip at the top standing in for the sky and the sharp angles of orange, red, and brown evoking mountains and ridges. The layered colors could also be seen as the stripes of an African textile, a polyrhythmic pattern of music, or references to mid-twentieth-century Color Field painting or Op art. The colors are reminiscent of those predominantly found in wallpaper, clothing, and other material culture of the 1970s, the era of Odita’s youth.

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