Toyin Ojih Odutola: The UmuEze Amara Clan of the House of Obafemi
Toyin Ojih Odutola, Zadie Smith
Rizzoli Electa, 2022
A seminal work by one of today’s most vital figurative artists explores the complexity of race, wealth, and class through storytelling and multimedia drawings. This extraordinary illustrated story–Toyin Ojih Odutola’s best-known body of work–chronicles the private lives of two fictional aristocratic Nigerian families, the UmuEze Amara Clan and the House of Obafemi, if colonialist and slave-trade interventions had never disrupted the country. Rendered life-size in charcoal, pastel, and pencil, Ojih Odutola’s figures appear enigmatic and mysterious, set against the artist’s larger conceived narrative, highlighting the malleability of identity and assumptions about race, and class. The UmuEze Amara Clan and the House of Obafemi presents the story of these families in four chapters illustrated and authored by Ojih Odutola, accompanied by the artist’s sketches and notes. Also included are several insightful essays on the artist herself by noted writers and critics Zadie Smith, Leigh Raiford, and others. An introduction to the artist’s vivid fictionalized world, as well as a reflection on the role of this body of work within her broader practice, this remarkable volume serves as the essential guide to Ojih Odutola’s unique form of storytelling.