Exhibition shares artist’s connection to history, spirituality and family

Usman Oladeinde

STATESBORO, Ga.—“In Search of Communication” features a series of paintings created by Master of Fine Arts candidate Usman Oladeinde. The exhibition will be on view at the Center for Art & Theatre’s University Gallery from Feb. 23 – March 2. A reception will be held on March 2 at 5 p.m.

Oladeinde uses his artwork to integrate Arabic text into imagery, by altering it into unclear shapes that viewers must interpret from their own perspective. With the use of acrylic paint and images, Oladeinde creates these shapes on backgrounds similar to landscapes, which portray an artistic element retreating into space.

“My process is deeply grounded in intuition, then resolved with a slower, more reflective approach,” said Oladeinde. “As an artist who lived and was raised in Lagos state, Nigeria, Africa, I wake up to the Athan to solat (which means the call to prayer) from the mosques and worship voice from churches in my neighborhood. Having traveled far from home, my connections to my history, spirituality, and family is tested and seems to be fading because I don’t hear this Athans (call) anymore.”

Oladeinde creates his artwork to ideally represent Qibla, the direction of the sacred building in Mecca that Muslims turn to at prayer. He uses the elements of family, spirituality, and history to connect to his artwork, to create an aesthetic space of contemplation within a culture bombarded by information. However, Oladeinde allows his artwork to communicate with viewers without restricting them to one topic. 

The landscapes in his artwork pique his interest in how opposite qualities can be represented at the same time, such as chaos and calm. There are also shapes that are utilized in his artwork to portray centeredness and memory.

“Oladeinde’s paintings tackle multiple painterly problems at once,” says Jason Hoelscher, the BFSDoArt Gallery Director. “The abstraction of textual forms that are already fairly abstract to begin with, at least to those not literate in the language, suggests the idea of communication, without communicating any one particular idea–without forcing on the viewer a particular message, in other words. The work is highly participatory in a way, like a choose-your-own-adventure book heavily abstracted and rendered into an image. The paintings are highly compelling, comprising dense fields of lush mark-making that operate at the midpoint between the alphabetic symbol and the painterly brushstroke.”

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research institution founded in 1906, offers 142 degree programs serving more than 27,000 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Savannah, Statesboro, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.

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Center for Art & Theatre • 233 Pittman Drive, Statesboro, Georgia, 30460 • Exhibitions & performances are open to the public.