‘Color This Brain’ by Eloghosa Osunde​

— Nix Thérèse

I’ve realized only recently that I have some anxiety around color. Basically, I drape myself in black & neutrals as a preemptive opt-out of having to really consider what hues will draw good attention & complement my being. It’s safe to say that I know the power of color, considering how often I shy away from wielding it. But the evocative, mystifying ‘Color This Brain’ series has flipped the script in reminding me that there can be color-matches for even our deepest “brain-states.” Eloghosa Osunde explains, “I know the exact colour and texture of my depression and my anxiety, my dissociation and my exhaustion. I know the flatness and madness and sharpness of all, the pace at which they breathe behind the eyes.” There’s magic in being able to render the normally intangible as tangible. This deep self-knowledge reads almost prophetic: namely we’re offered inner world visions that feel spiritually & emotionally charged, and that in turn makes us want to question what ours look like, where our hues &> mental states match or untangle from those present.

The first word that comes to mind when viewing these sixteen portraits is “drenched.” Some of these are quite challenging colors for the eye to take in. Even in the brighter Sobpink and Dissoci-orange, there’s still a real darkness permeating scenes, so much so that the figure’s consistently consumed in a deep tone. A spare amount of light serves less to illuminate or comfort than bounce off skin, sands, and waterpools, to keep these from fully silhouette-flat. Colors like cyan, midnight & “exhausted” blues, and fuschia obscure the figure to the point that my eye must adjust to even locate them in a scene. I’m flung headfirst into that color’s mood before I can even register how the body is speaking & reaching, but this speaks to how deft Osunde is at creating visual dissociation that becomes a mind-mirror. Numb Gold is probably my favorite with its striking bodytwist—the bottom half of a leg seemingly engulfed in tar, the arms outstretched and hands perched, the body almost completely thrown/centered between two dunes…and the warm gold overpour, of course. This portrait—and the series at large—is almost Rumpelstiltskin-esque in its ability to create treasure from what is often mentally the worst kind of straw. This visual language reminds me of those foreign words that cannot be translated smoothly into English; they’re mouthfuls and heartfuls, instead of small bites.

Eloghosa Osunde