The mundane and the mythical are flattened into one language via Odedina’s work, and legibility is the name of the game – lipstick is Monument, a cigarette the tower of Babel [see image below], in this world of motifs drawn from our shared mythology and imbued with Odedina’s own. From Nigeria to Haiti, Dorset to Central St Martin’s, no vista is off-limits – on the contrary, landscapes are fast becoming protagonists in their own right beneath the artist’s hands. Arriving at his discipline from a background in architecture via a spell of tattooing which saw his body covered from head to toe in just a few years, Odedina is more interested in what we share – between disciplines and as people – than what divides us.
Ahead of his latest exhibition at Copeland Gallery, we talk hysteria, modernism, Brexit and environmental activism, moving from the magpie interior of his townhouse to the studio out back via a catalogue featuring Piero Manzoni’s seminal Merda d’Artista, Congolese fetish objects and votive offerings from Brazil. How to shake off a canon’s nonsense, whilst staying open to its wisdom? Where does museum end and gallery begin? And how to represent the ineffable and the quotidian on a single surface – skin or board, as the case may be?