Zadie Smith ‘honored’ to be drawn for exhibition celebrating people of color
Zadie Smith said it was an honor to be drawn in an exhibition called Icons Of Color: Portraits of Brent’s Change Makers.
The portrait of the writer, 46, was drawn by Nigerian-born artist Toyin Ojih Odutola as part of a new exhibition commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) celebrating inspiring people of color.
The work, which used pastel, charcoal, pencil and graphite, will be on display from December 16 in Smith’s home neighborhood at the Brent Museum and Archives.
Smith said, “It is a remarkable experience to be drawn by such a brilliant artist as Toyin Ojih Odutola. I can’t say it was a collaboration – I just sat there – but it was an honor.
“She has Willesden behind me and palm fronds around me, so I feel very comfortable. And she gave me better shoes than the ones I have, which I’m grateful for.
It is a remarkable experience to be drawn by such a brilliant artist as Toyin Ojih Odutola. Can’t say it was a collaboration – I’m just sitting there – but it was an honorZadie Smith
Along with the full-length portrait, titled Sadie, the new exhibit also features activist, actor and musician Riz Ahmed and England footballer Raheem Sterling.
Smith is drawn in a relaxed pose, with her natural hair, with shapes and shadows reminiscent of palm trees – which hint at Smith’s Jamaican heritage – and a large map of her hometown in northwest London back -plan.
Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, said: “We are delighted to have commissioned this magnificent and monumental new portrait of one of the greatest literary voices of our time by one of the most innovative artists. and exciting that work today.
We are therefore delighted that this is the first work by Toyin Ojih Odutola to enter a UK public collection.Dr Nicolas Cullinan
“It also represents another important step in our continued commitment to increase the representation of black women, models and artists within our collection.
“We are therefore delighted that this is the first work by Toyin Ojih Odutola to enter a UK public collection.
“We are also excited to be able to display the work at Brent as part of our plans to share hundreds of portraits across the UK while the gallery is closed for this redevelopment, and we look forward to his return to a National. Portrait Gallery transformed in 2023. “
Smith became a household name with the publication of his award-winning debut novel, White Teeth, and his first play, The Wife of Willesden.