Monday, 22 February 2010

Chris Ofili - Tate Britain - A Review...

I've heard a lot about the Chris Ofili show in the last few weeks, all very positive aswell so I bucked up my idea's and payed the £8.50 (rip off merchants) to get in to see the show at the Tate Britain. I must admit, I knew nothing about his work prior to going to the show, I often don't. I'm not the most clued up of fine artists to be honest.

The most striking thing when you enter is shit, literally loads of elephant dung, every painting has some on and is held up by the stuff, there's even a sculpture. It's difficult not to find his work funny, when you first see all this but then you actually look at the pieces themselves and ignore the shit and you realise just what great work you are seeing. Each piece is meticulously done with dots and dabs, collage and random items like pins which add to a massive layered effect which is quite startling. The connections with hip hop are amusing and intriguing but add a lot to the work, if you manage to see the video of him explaining his work which as at the end of the exhbition aswell you really start to see how the hip hop and its connotations make this work tick. The picture below, is of a penis, is it needed, probably not, is it quite amusing, yeah, it probably is.

 In the Upper Room series, Ofili has painted a series of 12 or so images in different tones of a monkey based on an Andy Warhol collage. Some colours work better than other's but within the enviroment it works really well. Its a very dark room with only lights on the work and its very chilled out, I liked the space more than the work in it. Over all though theres a maturity starting to turn in his room, the repetition like they had been printed work's really well and as a series it is interesting to look at. Sadly the dung is still there, which for me, ruins it somewhat, It just doesn't work for me. I can see it links his work together and in some peoples opinions makes the work more earthly but for me I think its a shock and awe type of thing.
In the fourth room, the Red, Green and Black paintings, their are 3 paintings which only use the colours of the pan-African union flag, the work has got considerably more intricate and considerably bigger and they are very, very successful pictures. Like throughout the exhibition there is a very sexual motif going on, but it doesn't hinder these pictures, like it could have started to do in the first series of paintings. My favourite image is Afro Sunrise which surprisingly I also do like the dung in, it acts as a motif showing the viewers the colours used and it does actually start to work a lot more on these images.
His paper works in the next room, do nothing for me, they are quite immature and I don't think they needed to be added to this retrospective of his work. But the room along from that with the 'Blue Rider' works is my favourite room, quite a darkly lit room they have a luminosity which strikes you, the images are not that coherent, all the pieces are done with dark blue colours and so its in slight tones that you see differences but this works to the pictures favors. The dung is gone and the works are large and hang on the wall, you have to stand quite far back to see the images well and get everything out of them. I spent the longest time in this room, getting my moneys worth looking at these fantastic images, I can't put my finger on what brings me to like them so much, but something clicks for me.
Lastly Ofili shows his latest works, vastly different, if you saw these images next to his first pictures you would not think it was the same artist, he has lost the exactness of the dots from his work ten to fifteen years previously and there are more interesting figures and shapes, vivid colours, which is a stark contrast too the blue room that is next to it. Unlike that room where you feel you have to stand back to take the work in, these pieces literally only look good if you stand far back, when you get close they look quite clumsy and in my opinion, not amazing. I feel if he had shown this as his work to begin with he wouldn't have the reputation he does today, it is good that he is moving on and experimenting but something doesn't quite work with these images. I do like the use of colour and I enjoy the images in this room but not as much as some of the other work. Overall this is an interesting exhibition, My favourite pieces are the 'Blue Rider' series but I can see why the images at the start of the show are taking the headlines, they are very, very good.

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