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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Paintings of Trinidad

I love Chris Ofili. I appreciate his boyish fascination with elephant poo; he smuggled masses of it back in to the country from Africa and used it to mount and embellish his paintings, and even made one particular lump in to a self portrait, 'Shithead', which included old teeth and locks of his own hair. I also appreciate his humour, his bitter and brave play with black culture. When I saw No Woman, No Cry for the first time in the flesh it made me cry; partly because of the tragedy of Stephen Lawrence which it is a tribute to, but also because I had not expected the painting to be quite so big, or quite so overwhelmingly beautiful. I loved Chris Ofili because of, or despite all these things, but I love him even more now that he has spent a good long time maturing in the heat of Trinidad and emerged from night time jungle walks a painter. Because painters are a rare thing in the modern art world. Ofili proves his medium's validity with such torpidity and power.
The Raising of Lazarus, 2007

'I wonder if biblical was always a way to get to the spiritual, for me. When you live somewhere like this, you just become aware of different types of energy. The place itself has an undeniable energy. The force of nature is overwhelming.' Ofili on painting in Trinidad

The Healer, 2008

'I painted the first images of The Healer outdoors during a total lunar eclipse. He is born of the imagination sparked by forms in the clouds hovering over the hills at night. The figure of The Healer is a very dark character, black in fact, who feeds on the bright yellow of the sun.' Ofili

Habio Green Locks, 2009

'I've found that the night and twilight here enhances the imagination. In the city our relationship to the night is very particular because it's always illuminated, but here it's unlit, so you're relying on the light of the moon and sensitivity of the eyes. It's a different level of consciousness that is less familiar to me, and stimulating through a degree of fear and mystery.' Chris Ofili on painting in Trinidad


  1. The images are even richer when reduced like this, and somewhat clitoral.
    Eric Gill work on the BBC 4 tonight.

  2. "My paintings are allegories not portraits."

    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner