ETO OTITIGBE | “Materiel Remains” reviewed in The Washington Post

25 Jun

Eto Otitigbe

Review by Mark Jenkins

June 24, 2022 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

“Dr. Nova,” by Eto Otitigbe, in the exhibit “Materiel Remains: Consider This a Blueprint, a Series of Blueprints.” (Eto Otitigbe)

At first glance, the Eto Otitigbe paintings at Morton Fine Art don’t seem to have much connection with his best known ventures, which are public sculptures. But the swirling, inky facades of the artist’s “Materiel Remains: Consider This a Blueprint, a Series of Blueprints” are inscribed with intricate designs that have an architectural quality. These half-hidden forms do suggest blueprints, albeit for purely theoretical structures.

Otitigbe, who teaches sculpture at Brooklyn College, generally paints on valchromat, a variety of colored plywood introduced about 25 years ago. The artist buries the substance’s bright hues under mostly black paint, which contrasts the lines engraved by a computer-controlled process. The cleanly cut patterns are as precise as the applied pigment is loose and smeary.

The artist is a member of the design team for the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia, and his paintings do allude indirectly to hidden African American history. But they can also be seen as embodying the hidden structures that underlie a seemingly disordered universe. Trained as an engineer at MIT and Stanford, Otitigbe imposes structure even as he indulges painterly intuition.

Eto Otitigbe: Materiel Remains: Consider This a Blueprint, a Series of Blueprints Through June 28 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, No. 302. Open by appointment.

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