Woody De Othello: Coming to Light

November 20th, 2020 - January 30th, 2021
  • Coming to Light, installation view

Nina Johnson is proud to present Coming to Light, an exhibition of new works by Woody De Othello, opening on November 20th and remaining on view through January 30th, 2021. The exhibition is a homecoming for the Miami native, who lives and works in Oakland.

  • Self Containment, 2020, Ceramic and glaze, Overall dimensions: 47 x 18x 17 in.

Comprising figurative paintings and anthropomorphic ceramic vessels, Coming to Light uses contorted and mutated human forms to express the alienation and anxiety of our current moment.

The exhibition embodies the dual consciousness of the public and private selves. Othello pulls from Carl Jung’s notion of the shadow self and the Yoruba concept of ejiwapo (twoness) in order to illuminate the fissures of contemporary personhood. The subjects of these paintings are bent over in frustrated grief. Stuck within domestic interiors of the shower and bedroom, they are forced to confront themselves. In each, Othello employs two complementary color schemes, contributing to the overall feeling of division between the personal sphere and the world at large.

  • Mourning Day and Night, 2020, Oil on canvas, 41.5 x 36 x 2.5 in.
  • Coming to Light, installation view

While the paintings are vibrantly colored, the ceramic sculptures placed throughout the gallery are glazed with cool, forlorn shades.

  • Support for Growth, 2020, Ceramic, glaze, enamel and plant on tiled pedestal, Overall: 53 x 32 x 26 in.

These works spring from the paintings, and engage the art historical metaphor of body as vessel.

  • When Under Pressure, Relax Pose, 2020, Ceramic and glaze on tiled pedestal, Overall dimensions: 49 x 33 x 26 in.

That said, the forms they represent are fractured. A bust, a hand—these are portrayed wrapped around everyday items like combs or bottles.

  • Self-Imposed Balancing Act (Detail), 2020, Ceramic and glaze on tiled pedestal, Overall: 49.5 x 31 x 24 in.

Scaled up and cartoonishly rendered, these consumer objects begin to take on personalities of their own.

  • Coming to Light, installation view

The works in Coming to Light explore the moments of transformation and reflection brought about by this chaotic year.

  • Wishing Well, 2020, Ceramic and glaze, Overall: 14 x 26 x 37 in.

The show swims through the loneliness and uncertainty of quarantine, but also revels in the small sparks of beauty which come from confronting oneself. They are an urgent reflection on how it feels to be alive today.

  • Private Moment, 2020, Oil on canvas, 38.5 x 30.5 x 2.5 in.
Woody De Othello

Woody De Othello (b. 1991 Miami, FL) completed his MFA at the California College of Arts in San Francisco in 2017. He received his BFA from Florida Atlantic University with a concentration in Ceramics. In 2020, he completed a residency at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, WI. Othello has exhibited widely in group exhibitions, including FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial (2018), the 33rd Ljubljana Biennial in Slovenia (2019), and “Sleight of Hand” at the Center for Craft in Asheville, NC (2020). In 2018, Othello’s work was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission to be permanently installed at The San Francisco International Terminal. Othello opened his first solo museum show at the San Jose Museum of Art in November 2019. He is represented by Jessica Silverman in San Francisco and KARMA in New York. Othello lives and works in Oakland, CA.