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Chris Ofili

[1968 - ] View All Work

Chris Ofili (b. 1968) is one of Britain's most celebrated and influential artists working today.  For the past 20 years, the Turner Prize winning artist has become renowned for his beautifully ornate paintings that bridge popular culture with high art.  His most recent body of work is based on Ovid's epic poem of transformation, Metamorphoses.  The first half of Ofili's career was marked by beautifully elaborate images using materials such as glitter, resin, magazine cutouts and elephant dung.  Sharing little with his YBA counterparts, these early works are highly charged political images revolving around identity politics, hip-hop culture and racism.  Inspired by the tales of transformation found in Metamorphoses, Ofili's own oeuvre of work has "morphed" from his highly decorative, politically infused and dramatic paintings,  to near monochromatic, primarily black and blue images of Trinidad, to his newest works based on the stories in Metamorphoses.  Ofili has participated in numerous exhibitions across the globe including solo shows at the New Museum and the Tate Britain.  In 1998 Ofili was awarded the Turner Prize and in 2003 was honored to have a solo show in the British Pavilion of the Venice Biennale.

A move in 2005, from London to Trinidad, marked the first paradigm shift for Ofili.  Almost overnight, his works transformed from glittery and glamorous social critiques to subtle nuanced images evoking the mystic Caribbean life.  His use of chromatic blues and blacks, evoking the blue light of the twilight and the change that occurs with the onset of darkness, extend beyond the culture of Trinidad to offer a contemplative approach to history, identity, and ways of seeing the world around us.

The next "shift" occurred in 2012 when Ofili was invited to participate in London's Cultural Olympiad.  He was asked to create several new works for the British National Gallery, along with the set and costumes for The Royal Ballet's performance of "Metamorphoses".  This acclaimed exposure highlights the artist's latest transformation.  Departing from the blues and blacks of Trinidad, Ofili has been newly inspired to create works derived from the classical myths of Ovid and Metamorphoses.

Considered Ovid's magnum opus, the fifteen books and over 250 myths, chronicles the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar.  Although meeting the criteria for an epic, the poem defies simple genre classification.  One of the most influential works in Western culture, the Metamorphoses has inspired such authors as Dante, Boccaccio, Chaucer, and Shakespeare.  Although interest in Ovid faded after the Renaissance, towards the end of the twentieth century there was a resurgence of attention  and today, the stories from Metamorphoses are being visually "re-told" by Chris Ofili.  Galerie Maximillian is extremely proud to present this important body of work.