Skip to main content
Lot 16
Toyin Ojih Odutola
(Nigerian, born 1985)
The Original (Binary State)
2 September 2020, 14:00 EDT
New York

Sold for US$68,825 inc. premium

Own a similar item?

Submit your item online for a free auction estimate.

How to sell

Looking for a similar item?

Our African Modern & Contemporary Art specialists can help you find a similar item at an auction or via a private sale.

Find your local specialist

Ask about this lot

Toyin Ojih Odutola (Nigerian, born 1985)

The Original (Binary State)
signed and dated 'Toyin Odutola May 2008' (lower right)
watercolour, pen and ink and pencil on paperboard
50.8 x 40.6cm (20 x 16in).


Acquired directly from the artist, 2009;
A private US collection.

Oakland, CA., Center for African Diasporic Culture, 'Misc. Womanhood', 2009.

Toyin Ojih Odutola completed the present lot The Original (Binary State) in May 2008 during her BA in Studio Art and Communications at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. It was during this time where Ojih Odutola was determined to use ballpoint pens, pencils and ink as her primary medium. For Ojih Odutola drawing is a way of storytelling.

The Original (Binary State) is a portrait of a Muslim woman of Nigerian descent. Ojih Odutola has illustrated a map as part of the sitter's body featuring imaginary states and place names such as 'RESPECT', 'CHOICE', 'INDEPENDENT' and 'STRONG'. Smaller place names include 'pain', 'exotic' and 'understanding'. All of which are themes that Ojih Odutola may have felt pertinent as a young woman growing up in the conservative area of Huntsville, particularly after emigrating from Nigeria via California. The present lot was also featured in the group exhibition 'Misc. Womanhood' in 2009 at the Sangreti Center in San Francisco, CA., exploring the meaning of the "everyday" woman.

Although The Original (Binary State) is an early example of Ojih Odutola's work, it features her distinctive overlayered technique in the structure of the sitter's face which she is known for today. The simplicity of a marker pen, together with the rigid hatching and cross hatching techniques, the fabric of the headscarf flows around her face. Since completing this work Toyin Ojih Otudola has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and is due to have her first solo show in London at The Barbican. Her work has also been featured on the front covers of both Time and The New York Times Magazine.

Additional information