Toyin Odutola’s Black Portraiture with Ballpoint Pen Ink

by Jane KenoyerPosted on

Artist Toyin Odutola has recently completed a stunning body of work. These detailed sketches are in-depth explorations of what “Black” means to the artist in relation to aesthetic portraiture. This body of work is mostly comprised of black ballpoint pen ink, black acrylic ink, and paper or board.



Read more as Odutola explains in detail about her portraits, “Where some may see flat, static narratives, I see a spectrum of tonal gradations and realities. What I am creating is literally black portraiture with ballpoint pen ink. I’m looking for that in-between state in an individual where the overarching definition is lost. Skin as geography is the terrain I expand by emphasizing the specificity of blackness, where an individual’s subjectivity, various realities and experiences can literally be drawn onto the diverse topography of the epidermis. From there, the possibilities of portraying a fully-fledged person are endless.” Odutola was born in Ife, Nigeria and moved to the United States at a young age. She recently completed the Master of Fine Arts program at the California College of the Arts. Written by Jane Kenoyer 

Uncertain, yet Reserved


Self Portrait


Self Portrait, after Najva Sol




I had her, and then I lost her


I had her, and then I lost her (detial)


Bored, Doe-Eyed and Waiting

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