Next Wave Nigeria: Osi Asudu
Now on view in the African Galleries
My view of the head as a container—a container of consciousness—is an ongoing source of inspiration for my work. I see a correlation between traditional African thoughts, and contemporary scientific discourses on the nature of consciousness.
Osi Audu explores the intersections of science and Yoruba tradition in his paintings. Born in Nigeria, Audu received a BFA from the University of Ife in the seat of ancient Yoruba culture. Later relocating to the University of Georgia in the United States for further study, the artist now lives in upstate New York. His art, exhibited globally, connects Yoruba traditional philosophy to contemporary life. In Yoruba culture, the head dominates the representation of the self. Yoruba view the human head as having both a spiritual dimension (the “inner head”) as well as a physical one (the “outer head”). Audu examines the relationship between these dual parts of the self through abstract geometric forms that evoke the human head and invite viewers to consider the process of visual perception.Audu takes seriously the scientific component to his art, emphasizing the influence of the phenomenology of perception on his work. 75% of the brain is devoted to perception, a process that involves the interpretation of neural impulses inside the head. The artist has worked with a professor from London’s Imperial College School of Medicine to explore the divide between the conscious and the unconscious mind. This collaboration led to Audu’s use of color and minimalist form to produce participatory visual perceptual experiments within his paintings. In Outer and Inner Head (2002), if the viewer stares fixedly at the center of the left panel for ten seconds, then shifts the gaze to the right, an after-image will appear in the complementary color. Intrigued by perception’s complex challenging of interior/exterior boundaries, Audu has said, “It is this objective/subjective aspect of consciousness that I explore in my diptychs.” Encouraging viewers to think deeply about the brain’s role in interpreting physical reality, Audu considers this fleeting optical after-image a real yet intangible phenomenon of consciousness—in short, the inner head.
Hear more about these interesting intersections of science and culture from the artist himself when he comes to the museum this Thursday, May 10, 2012 for our NEXT WAVE NIGERIA Artist’s Dialogue!
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