Chris Ofili: Not afraid to fail

Chris Ofili,”Afrodizzia (2nd version),” 1996, Courtesy Victoria Miro Gallery, London
Chris Ofili, “Lover’s rock – guilt,” 2007, oil on linen, 110 5/8 x 76 7/8.” Image courtesy David Zwirner.

Chris Ofili, “Douen’s Dance,” 2007, oil on linen, 110 5/8 x 76 3/4.”

In the Guardian, Charlotte Higgins blogs that she isn’t sure what to think about Chris Ofili’s show at the Tate. “I’d seen some of Chris Ofili’s new work in the lavish new Rizzoli book he has helped put together. Even so, after walking past so many greatest hits and old friends in the galleries at London’s Tate Britain, where his latest career survey opens to the public tomorrow, I got a jolt when I walked into the final pair of rooms, filled with his most recent work. In the first, the paintings are entirely blue � deep, midnight shades of indigo, ultramarine and bilberry. In the second, the paintings are screaming with acid colours: strident purple next to citrus orange; a tintinnabulating turquoise; egg-yolk yellow. And there is no elephant dung. And no glitter.

I have to confess I’m a bit of an Ofili fan. I’ve always loved the unashamedly stuff-encrusted surfaces of his paintings. So it’s a bit odd to see works stripped of their jewels, so to speak. I’m still figuring out whether I like the new work, which is steeped in the landscape and mysterious atmosphere of Trinidad, where Ofili has lived and worked since 2005. The moment I walked into the final room of the show my heart, I have to confess, sank. Then I looked at the paintings a bit more, and concluded that I kind of liked them. Then I was sure again. There’s something slightly off-key about them. In fact, I just don’t know.”

Adrian Searle: “Chris Ofili’s new show is a lesson in learning to be free. Not of the shadows cast by other artists, but of his own. Early success makes some artists grow scared of their shadows; they get so stuck with the thing they have become known for that they are paralysed, �unable to find a way forward. Ofili, �instead, has raced ahead. On Sunday he told me that he is letting his new work lead him where it will.”

Chris Ofili,” curated by Judith Nesbitt. Tate Britain, London. Through May 16, 2010.


  1. wow !1 can you believe i just found your blog today ?
    it is great . i loved this ! .

    thanks !!
    see you !

    by the way .
    there is anyway to follow this blog ? i've tried to find a link or something , but nothing .

  2. Thanks. You can add Two Coats of Paint to your blog reader by clicking on the subscription button in the column at right.

  3. In my book, Ofili's more than earned the right to follow his paintings where they lead, without worrying about what people–or critics [yes, I know they're people, too]–think an Ofili 'should' look like.

    Also, the flatness and reductionism/abstraction of those [more] recent works remind me of giant Jacob Lawrences. Others kind of veer toward Chagall, of all things.

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