A Countervailing Theory is Nigerian-American artist Toyin Ojih Odutola’s new commission for the Barbican.
For her first-ever UK exhibition, Ojih Odutola populates the sweeping wall of the Curve gallery with an epic new cycle of works, executed in pastel, charcoal and chalk.
Each of these drawings act as episodes within the epic narrative of an imagined myth conceived by the artist.
Together the works reveal the story of a fictional ancient civilisation in central Nigeria dominated by female rulers, challenging preconceived notions of history, culture, gender, sexuality, race, the natural environment and more.
Gathering from an eclectic range of references, from ancient history to popular culture, Ojih Odutola encourages the viewer to piece together the fragments of the stories she presents.
Offering an insight into this remarkable body of work, the accompanying publication features an essay by writer Zadie Smith and an interview with the artist by exhibition curator Lotte Johnson.
Published on the occasion of the exhibition at The Curve, Barbican, 26 March – 26 July 2020 which travels on to Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg, Denmark (August 2020 – January 2021) and Hirshhorn Museum of Sculpture Garden, Washington, USA in Spring 2021.
Photo-caption: Toyin Ojih Odutola, The Ruling Class (Eshu), 2019 (detail), from A Countervailing Theory. Image: © Toyin Ojih Odutola. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.