London | A Countervailing Theory- Toyin Ojih Odutola

Its a story about re-writing history, changing the narrative of how we came to be as entities; nations, people, defined roles, traditions and customs. This is challenging the patriarchy whilst enhancing the matriarchy and an imagined way of the world different from the history we have been taught. It presents a concept of what if and paints a reality that is both empowering and freeing. Inspired by a plethora of references, past and present, across a range of ages, the artist, Toyin Ojih Odutola delves into power plays within this imagined society.

Set within a landscape inspired by the rock formations of the Jos, Plateau in Nigeria, the paintings depict a prehistoric fiction where women ruled and the men were subservient, much like if the realities of today were flipped right round. There are rules that contain each sect to their own kind and not straying outside of their own gender for relationships.

Using charcoal and chalk, the lines in the horizon draws you deep so your eyes have to travel farther whilst still holding present the images closer to you. The markings explore a creative medium that separates and unites in tandem, the different stories in one painting, a feat often harder to depict, especially to the ordinary eyes. The imagery is so imposing we can see it all unfolding. It is a book in art form, merging two mediums in a singular presentation. It is intense and riveting as it creates a new reality that appears trapped in the corners of its frame but extend in the width of the other paintings. A continuous rhythm the invites the the viewer to go beyond their predisposed imaginings.

A Countervailing Theory flips the world on its axis by presenting women as warriors and protectors.

This is a story telling expedition through drawing, one that invites the observer to form pieces of their own narrative and infuse it into the story. The show set in a dramatic darkened curve of the Barbican displays forty drawings in monochromatic black and white. The paintings, mostly in large scale are mystifying. It is an invitation to question the status quo of the world as it exists and to imagine how it would be if the realties turned out differently. A truth that can be said for the world as it is today.

Toyin Ojih Odutola- A Countervailing Theory | Tue 11 Aug 2020—Sun 24 Jan 2021- The Curve