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British-Nigerian Artist, Abe Odedina, opens solo show at Ed Cross, London

21st Sept- 11 Nov, 2023 | London, United Kingdom

Ed Cross is delighted to present I’m a Believer, a solo show of new work by Abe Odedina. Crystallising something that has infused the artist's practice since its earliest days, I’m a Believer unites societal myths and daily minutiae under one thesis: fact and fiction aren’t as different as we might think, and all it takes to transform one into the other is belief.

A large inheritance,  ABE ODEDINA
A large inheritance, 2023 Acrylic on plywood 122 x 164.5 cm | Courtesy of Ed Cross Gallery

As a statement, the show’s title operates a double bind – after all, declaring belief in something acknowledges its arbitrary limits; it allows for the possibility of disbelieving, framing belief as a choice rather than something inevitable. It’s a worldview that offers enormous manoeuvrability, positioning grand narratives and hearsay alike in one arena, to subscribe to or discard as the case may be. Most importantly of all, it figures Odedina in a rich context – artist as creator of stories, not just an absorber of them.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Odedina revels in both roles. Replete with mini-miracles as well as bona fide supernatural occurrences, his tableaus testify to the magic of lives large and small alike. Rendered in his characteristic style, always privileging symbolic legibility, his paintings wrangle high and low into a single plane (plywood, acrylic), underplaying gods or overstating anecdotes depending on which angle you’re looking from.

Abe Odedina Push me I push you
Abe Odedina | Push me I push you, 2023122 x105.5 cm

Drawing on religious traditions as well as pop culture – like The Monkees’ 1966 song that shares the show’s name – I’m a Believer locates the spark that powers existing narratives while also foregrounding the role of belief in contemporary art as a whole. Stepping into a gallery or a temple involves the belief that the objects inside will convey something transcendent, change us in some way; having located that symbolic overlap, Odedina revels in it. How about these objects, these images? he seems to say. I’m a believer – and in walking through the gallery doors, so are you.

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British-Nigerian Artist, Abe Odedina, opens solo show at Ed Cross, London

October 5, 2023

Art Report Africa

2 min read

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