Activating ICA Miami’s central stairwell with a geometric composition, Odili Donald Odita’s forty-five-foot-tall wall painting explores abstraction and its connections to music, dance, and identity.
Mamba Negra (2019) features a dynamic pattern of interlocking forms that evokes the rhythmic movement of dancing bodies or the skin of the sub-Saharan black mamba snake. The inspiration for and title of the work comes from a dance collective popular in São Paulo’s vibrant and political electronic music scene. Founded in 2012, the Mamba Negra hosts a series of diverse and sex-positive underground parties held in the abandoned buildings of São Paulo’s downtown industrial neighborhoods. Odita’s array of colors and writhing geometric figures reference the hallucinatory experience and inclusivity of dance, which aims to defy social segregation and gentrification. “The dance floor can be the most gregarious and democratic space in the world,” Odita says.
Odili Donald Odita (b. 1966, Enugu, Nigeria) lives and works in Philadelphia. He has presented solo exhibitions at the Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina (2015–17); Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg (2014); Savannah College of Art and Design (2012–13); and the New Orleans Museum of Art (2011), among others. He has participated in group exhibitions at the Baltimore Museum of Art (2019); Prospect.4, New Orleans (2017–18); Newark Museum of Art, New Jersey (2015–16); Philadelphia Museum of Art (2015); Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki (2011); and the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007), among others. The artist’s work is found in the permanent collections of the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others.