san-francisco

Toyin Ojih Odutola, A Grand Inheritance, 2016, charcoal, pastel, and pencil on paper, 89 × 60".

Toyin Ojih Odutola

Museum of the African Diaspora

Toyin Ojih Odutola, A Grand Inheritance, 2016, charcoal, pastel, and pencil on paper, 89 × 60".

From the outset, Toyin Ojih Odutola’s solo exhibition “A Matter of Fact” makes visitors complicit in its fabulist conceit. What we are about to see, an introductory wall panel announces, is the “private collection of rarely exhibited portraits depicting the UmuEze Amara family,” a fictional aristocratic Nigerian clan, the portrayals of whom purportedly span two hundred years. The eighteen pieces on view, all made with charcoal, pastel, and pencil, and most of them life-size portraits, provide clues to the family’s histories—its proclivities, its relationships, and, above all, its members’ tastes. Rather than posing as the clan’s in-house portraitist, Ojih Odutola casts herself as “private secretary” to the family’s queer patriarchs (who are presented as the show’s curators, and whose portrait, Newlyweds on Holiday [all works 2016], hangs just outside the gallery proper).

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