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Chris Ofili - Tate Britain, Gallery guide

Brochure relating to an exhibition, 2010
Published by: Tate Britain
Year published: 2010

image of Chris Ofili - Tate Britain, Gallery guide

Small, folded concertinaed brochure accompanying Chris Ofili’s mid-career mid-career retrospective at Tate Britain, 27 January - 16 May 2010. The brochure guided the viewer through the exhibition’s 7 rooms, each room dedicated to a different phase or period of Ofili’s practice thus far.

“Chris Ofili was born in Manchester in 1968, and discovered his love of painting whilst on Foundation course at Tameside College of Technology (1987-88). He went on to study painting at Chelsea School of Art and Design (1989 - 1991) and the Royal College of Art (1991 - 1993). Ofili won the Turner Prize in 1998 and represented Britain at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003. In 2005, he moved from London to Port of Spain, Trinidad.

This exhibition begins with a selection of the exuberant paintings Ofili produced in the 1990s. These richly layered paintings pulsate with the colour and energy of the artist’s intricate brushwork, to which he added glitter, resin, map pins, and collaged magazine cut-outs. He also applied elephant dung balls to the canvas and used them to prop the paintings on the floor. Challenging stereotypical representations of black culture, Ofili created his own contemporary iconography combining Afro celebration, hip hop and gangsta rap, with comic caricatures and Biblical imagery.

At the centre of the exhibition is the extraordinary sensory experience of The Upper Room, 1999-2002. This series of 13 paintings is installed in a specially constructed vault designed in collaboration with architect David Adjaye. These celebrated works can now be considered alongside the artist’s recent paintings, which are profoundly affected by his observation of Trinidad’s landscape, customs and beliefs. Brought together for the first time, this wide range of work demonstrates Ofili’s continual experimentation with painting and the eclectic nature of his visual inspiration - from hip hop to spirituality, folklore, and the natural world.”

The 7 rooms covered the following phases: Room 1, Early - Mid 1990s; Room 2, Mid - Late 1990s; Room 3, The Upper Room, Room 4, Red, Black and Green Paintings, Room 5, Works on Paper, Room 6, Blue Rider, Room 7, Recent Work. The exhibition covered some seven rooms of the Tate Britain and spanned the major aspects of his output thus far. The exhibition was accompanied by a substantial catalogue and other publicity and paraphernalia. Chris Ofili, the exhibition, garnered a range of press coverage of significant importance and quantity. It was, to date, the most substantial exhibition by a Black artist, in Britain.

Along with details of the exhibition and other information of relevant interest to the exhibition-goer, the brochure was interspersed with a number of quotes related to Ofili and his practice. These were presented in red, and came from sources such as Adrian Searle writing in The Independent, Carol Vogel writing in The New York Times, Donna De Salvo writing in Artforum, and Jonathan Jones writing in The Guardian. There were also several quotes lifted from the substantial Tate catalogue that accompanied the exhibition.


Related people + view all 15

»  David Adjaye (Sir)

Born, 1966 in Dar-es-Salaam

»  Okwui Enwezor

Born, 1963 in Nigeria. Died, 2019

»  Stuart Hall, Professor

Born, 1932 in Jamaica. Died, 2014

»  Adrian Searle

Born, 1951 in UK

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  Tate Britain

London, United Kingdom