New York - Exhibition

Chris Ofili: Night and Day

New Museum

29 Oct 201425 Nov 2014

The New Museum presents the first major solo museum exhibition in the United States of Chris Ofili‘s (b.1968, Manchester) work. Occupying the Museum’s three main galleries, Chris Ofili: Night and Day will span the artist’s influential career, encompassing his paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Over the past two decades, Ofili has become identified with vibrant, meticulously executed, elaborate artworks that meld figuration, abstraction,and decoration. In his extremely diverse oeuvre, Ofili has taken imagery and inspiration from such disparate, history-spanning sources as the Bible, hip-hop music, Zimbabwean cave paintings, Blaxploitation films, and William Blake’s poems. As the title of the exhibition suggests, Ofili’s practice has undergone constant changes, moving from boldly expressive to deeply introspective across an experimental and prodigious body of work. The exhibition will feature over thirty of Ofili’s major paintings, a vast quantity of drawings, and a selection of sculptures from over the course of his twenty-year career.

Ofili‘s early paintings from the ’90s were created using his signature layering of materials, including paint, resin, glitter, and elephant dung, and a diverse combination of iconography. The exhibition will bring together more than twelve of his canvases from this period, which combine spectacularly rendered psychedelic surfaces with provocative imagery from a staggering array of cultural sources, from religious icons to Blaxploitation films. From this early period, Ofili established an approach to painting that is both seductive and rigorously historical. After moving to

Trinidad from London in 2005, Ofili’s work took a new direction and prompted “The Blue Rider” series, which takes its name from the early twentieth-century artist group that sought spirituality by connecting visual art with music. Since then, Ofili has gone on
to create a number of large blue paintings. For this exhibition, nine of these works will be brought together for the first time in an architectural environment designed by the artist. Composed in dark hues of blue, this series of paintings evokes the blue light of twilight and the soulfulness of blues music. Although rooted in the landscape and culture of Trinidad, Ofili’s blue paintings extend beyond to offer a contemplative approach to history, identity, and ways of seeing.

His most recent canvases have been animated by exotic characters, outlandish landscapes, and folkloric myths that resonate with references to the paintings ofHenri Matisse and Paul Gauguin. This exhibition will also include a selection of paintings from Ofili’s “Metamorphoses” series. These brightly colored canvases were inspired by the poem of the same name by Ovid and illustrate the ancient Roman author’s stories of gods and humans, including the tale of the goddess Diana and the hunter Actaeon. They were initially created at the invitation of the National Gallery of London in response to their own series of paintings of Diana and Actaeon by Titian from the mid- sixteenth century. Ofili’s paintings offer a unique interpretation of both the original text and its painted interpretations, opening up the ancient myths to new, contemporary readings. These works will be displayed in a dreamlike, painted environment inspired by British filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger‘s 1947 film Black Narcissus.

  • Installation view. Courtesy of New MuseumInstallation view. Courtesy of New Museum
  • Installation view. Courtesy of New MuseumInstallation view. Courtesy of New Museum

Related Artists

Chris Ofili

Chris Ofili

Contacts & Details

ADMISSION:
$14 adults

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