Emma Odumade plays with different realities: oscillating between memories and fictional scenes imbued with references to his own life. He expresses his struggle to escape from his malaise and gathers, in his art, the moments of joy that hold him away from the darkness. He plunges the viewers into his intimacy.
When created during one phase of personal self-awareness, the featured canvases retain, from this period, the artist’s torments and explore the paths offered to him to overcome suffering. Emma Odumade presents then a sensitive and confidential art – developed around hyper-realistic charcoal portraits. His work is closely related to his private life and concerns. The artist integrates his memories and emotions into his pieces. If the moments he evokes on his canvases might re-play a key event of his life, he always depicts a scene in which a change is taking place. As I Reflected materialises the concept of transition. In this sense, the shape of some of the works - circular or inclined - as well as the posture of the moving characters, provides a sensation of impulse and suggests movement. The ensemble of three canvases Three Sides of a Coin describes, documents and questions change, by showing three times the same child figure under three distinct angles, crossed by three different emotions. A recurring topic in the art of Odumade are childhood acts, which symbolise a beginning. The artist develops: “We were children before anything else. Children project us to the past when we were free.” The child becomes the privileged witness to transition, an actor standing on the dawn of change.
The collage elements found throughout Odumade’s works - photos of Bronzes from the Benin Kingdom, old concert tickets, old images, and sketches - combine past, present, and future. Odumade interrogates transformations in shared spaces. How do these mutations impact social life, as well as relationships with others and the environment? That is the question Festival of Men – a circular canvas poses, featuring two central characters holding a cockerel, which initiates thought on the very notion of gender and its associated stereotypes.
Emma Odumade plays with different realities: oscillating between memories and fictional scenes imbued with references to his own life. He expresses his struggle to escape from his malaise and gathers, in his art, the moments of joy that hold him away from the darkness. He plunges the viewers into his intimacy. He introduces them to the people he cares about - his girlfriend in Unto Me, or his best friends in Euphoria (Never Low Again)- until he reveals his deeper self, through a self-portrait. Seth; Why Run Away from Light Equals Infin9s is part of the rare representations of the artist. On the paper's surface, Seth, his alter-ego, is running away before being stopped. He appears to be caught by the reality facing him. This self-portrait marks the artist’s awareness: “I’m trying to face the fact that I’m now growing. I can’t escape reality. I need to face it.” Whilst he was down, he illustrated his fight to move on. “Why Run Away from Light”? He asks. The answer arises as an equation: Infin9s. Some other equations that can be found in the background onto frenetic and spontaneous notes, nearly compulsive, evoke the future as a prediction of what could happen; as well as the past of the artist who studied physics. The black tea symbolises at the same time the present - regarding Odumade’s interest in botanical sciences - but also the beginning and the soul: for what is inside but can’t be physically shown. Thus, Odumade, who describes himself as an introvert and shy person, discloses his inner self through this self-portrait, exposing his sorrow and doubts. If he tries to draw the viewers’ attention by mixing colours and artistic techniques, this piece asserts itself like the scream of the artist, seeking change.
The fictional situations - starring anonymous people he meets on the street - he sometimes depicts, are impregnated with his experiences, and carry his thoughts on the world. Odumade proposes alternative realities that he integrates into his own realm by slipping in personal artefacts, always to underline the transformations the world is undergoing and the connections between people. Thus, while As I Reflected mirrors Emma Odumade's reality through its personal nature, it also touches on universal issues and questions our relationship to the past and the changes in the world through time.