Born in Kenya in 1950, Odundo moved to the UK in 1971 to attend art school. After choosing ceramics as her preferred medium, Odundo travelled to Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria to study their ceramic traditions. Odundo’s desire to learn about vernacular crafts has taken her across the globe to Europe, Africa, Asia and Central America. This journeying has inspired Odundo’s own unique visual language – her hand-built forms are often asymmetrical, large in size and with dynamic silhouettes that often conjure the human body. The vessels are burnished rather than glazed and fired in ways that create her distinctive surfaces of vibrant orange, velvety black, or a dramatic interplay of the two.
Designed by internationally acclaimed architect Farshid Moussavi OBE, the exhibition will situate Odundo’s work at the heart of a constellation of objects that Odundo has drawn inspiration from: British studio pottery by Hans Coper and Lucy Rie; ancient vessels from Greece and Egypt; historic ceramics from Africa, Asia and Central America; ritual sculpture and objects from across the African continent; Elizabethan costume and textiles; as well as contemporary objects including a large work by artist El Anatsui. The exhibition will explore Odundo’s interest in her own diasporic identity and the charged role that objects have played, and continue to play, in intercultural relationships today.
Odundo’s works will also be brought into dialogue with sculptures by 20th century artists including Edgar Degas, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Auguste Rodin, whose approaches to depicting forms have long been an inspiration for Odundo and highlight the primary importance of the human body as a reference within her work.
‘I am excited and looking forward to enabling visitors to experience my work within the context of the very many cultures, histories and works of art that I have had the privilege of studying and taken inspiration from over the last 40 years. I love Sir David Chipperfield’s beautifully designed building and for me, bringing this altogether in this setting is an amazing opportunity.’ – Magdalene Odundo
16 February – 2 June 2019
The Hepworth Wakefield, Gallery Walk, Wakefield WF1 5AW