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Marking Collins Obijiaku’s inaugural solo presentation with the gallery, the exhibition brings together fifteen new portraits created over the last year. “Unexpected Sittings” explores the potential behind every interaction, and how in these dynamic and, at times complicated spaces, one can become inspired to an unfamiliar degree. As stated by the artist, “there is an unlimited wealth of ideas that are bound within the fabrics of chance conversations or interactions that unfold  and  progress  naturally.  And  many  of  these  ideas,  or  fresh  perspectives, carry the potential to nudge us, as [either] individuals and groups, into the path of positive change.”

Heavily influenced by a deep, familial connection to the cultural heritage and immediate environment around him, Obijiaku’s paintings are infused with a sense of everyday life and personal experience. His portraits frequently depict human vulnerability, while examining identity and intimacy. “Unexpected Sittings” features family and friends—both old and new—painted in the same style: quarter-length portraits with unbroken eye contact, a shallow depth of field with no identifying background, and modern, organic colors. Fusing style with content, Obijiaku captures each of his subject’s distinct personalities in the subtlest of detail.

Obijiaku’s  practice  is  recognizable  for  its  distinct  render,  topographical  linework,  and  emotive  qualities. Working directly on the surface of either paper or canvas, he slowly builds out the contours of the face with considerable skill. The effect is one not unlike silverpoint, a technique of drawing difficult to correct mastered by Albrecht Dürer. This embrace of both spontaneity and skill captures the intricacies of mark-making, as well as the intangible qualities of the depicted subject. The contrasting color and light, and rich textural quality of painted details, further highlight the artist’s hand.

At Roberts Projects, Los Angeles
until June 4, 2022

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