FIGURES OF PLAYFUL REBELLION – Dennis Osadebe. UNTITLED, ART. Miami Beach OVR 2-6 December
Do you remember how much fun it was to visit a playground as a child? Nigerian mixed-media artist, Dennis Osadebe wants us to forget about our overwhelming adult responsibilities for a short while and transport us back to our care-free youth. In his upcoming online exhibition, ‘Figures of Playful Rebellion’, Osadebe’s sense of fun and humour enhance the viewing experience, whilst encouraging us to listen, nurture and respect the child within.
Originally from the vibrant, promising city of Lagos, Osadebe’s name is becoming internationally established through his innovativeuse of bold, bright and geometrically rich artworks. Osadebe’s style is a unique combination of digital processes, which he uses to create canvasses that are subsequently layered with acrylic paint.
Osadebe has a strong entrepreneurial foundation, which grants him insight to an ever-evolving art world. He encourages his viewers to reinterpret art from the continent of Africa by using constructive, stimulating and dynamic images and narration. Osadebe proudly coined the movement ‘Neo-African’ in opposition to the apathetic, overused phrase ‘African art’. Appropriate rebranding of traditions in a transforming world, that serve to enhance and empower creatives emanating from the African continent.
Osadebe’s distinctive artistic style has expanded and led him to explore and reinterpret indoor and outdoor personal spaces – the concept of new personal spheres since people are mostly indoors now. The ‘art audience’ who wouldn’t usually have connected or engaged with Osadebe’s works can now see themselves, their friends and their loved ones in these works.
‘Figures of Playful Rebellion’ will be visible as part of the UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach Online Viewing Rooms during the first week of December. It features six new mixed-media paintings, that engage play as the foundation of creative expression for the artist and contemplates how through play, we can bring together people, strengthen the community, and challenge apathy and injustices. In the works, we are introduced to young characters performing different forms of joyful action, such as swinging and playing with toys as we are asked to reflect on our own relationship with play as an asset for generating social change.
In creating this series, Osadebe unpicks ideas about the power of play for the potential of our future, and what shifts could come from an adventurous showcase of beliefs, to challenge feelings of hopelessness, as a result. Understanding play as an opportunity for escape, and an offer of contrast to the tone of protest, is done in stark contrast to what we have become accustomed to.
Osadebe utilises the raw universality that the act of play occupies, being an apparatus that is accessible to all. The artist transfers us back to our childhood to re-frame the power of this innate method of communication to think about real change, thus serving as a reminder that the future is worth playing for. – By Dennis Osadebe and Andrea Kemsley.
‘Figures of Playful Rebellion’ will be available for viewing on the Artland platform from the 2nd – 6th of December. Please contact the Christopher Moller Gallery, should you wish to receive the viewing information.
Dennis Osadebe (born in 1991) is a Nigerian mixed-media artist best known for his contemporary, vibrant post-pop style. Osadebe’s style is a unique blend of digital processes which he uses to create canvasses that are subsequently layered with acrylic paint. With his characteristic use of flattened planes and bold colour, the artist creates what he refers to as a “neo” visual style, one that is “modern, bright, expressive and provocative”.
In Osadebe’s works, play and provocation are used to invite viewers to critically think about their world and their place within it. Central to Osadebe’s imagined narrative is the symbol of the helmet, a reoccurring visual element that binds the diverse characters together. In one sense, the helmet is a form of protective gear, shielding the harmful effects of the outside environment. The helmet creates a sense of anonymity, disguising the identity of its user. There is also an inherent sense of isolation associated with the helmet, which parallels the isolation created by our technologies.
Osadebe obtained a BSc in Business and Management from the Queen Mary University of London and a MSc from the University of Warwick, majoring in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. An aspiring entrepreneur turned self-taught artist, Osadebe’s art has been featured in numerous contemporary art exhibitions since relocating back to Lagos in 2013, he has collaborated with international brands such as Diesel and has coined a new cultural movement he calls ‘neo-africa’, which aims to deconstruct the notion of “African art” and escape the expectations often projected onto contemporary artists emanating from the African continent.