Chris Ofili at Tate Britain

5 Feb 2010



I saw the Chris Ofili exhibition at Tate Britain on Wednesday. I didn't know anything about this artist, so when I entered the first room and noticed elephant dung on his paintings I was slightly shocked! But I was immediately blown away by the stunning colours. When you go up close, you can see layer upon layer of dots in vibrant colours. Close up shot of texture:



I've since learnt that Chris Ofili started using elephant dung in his paintings when he was in Zimbabwe. He says, "[Using dungballs is] a way of raising the paintings up from the ground and giving them a feeling that they've come from the earth rather than simply being hung on a wall." [Quote from exhibition leaflet]. When I read this, it made much more sense to me.



It's a large exhibition with 7 rooms in total and my favourite was the Upper Room which takes you on an extraordinary sensory experience. The paintings are displayed in a specially constructed vault designed in collaboration with architect David Adjaye.

To enter the vault you first pass through a long corridor which is completely dark apart from some illuminated openings along the floor. It's quite scary walking in the dark but the lights entice you further into the space.



When I reached the end of the corridor and turned the corner, I was amazed that the entire space was clad in beautiful timber - floor, walls and ceiling. The texture was lovely, as it felt smooth but also quite raw.



The lighting is exquisite. Each painting is illuminated by a single directional light from above, and it is this light that shines through the openings behind the paintings into the corridor. The paintings literally glow against the dark timber backdrop, and the light is reflected in a pool at the foot of each canvas. The conditions in the timber vault really bring out the richness of the paintings.



I feel I really learnt something at this exhibition, and not only about a new artist, but also about the design of the exhibition. I should visit Tate Britain more often as it is directly opposite my college and I have free access as a student!

[Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]

15 comments:

Little Monarch said...

thanks for sharing this. i had never heard of this artist before either. the photos you have taken are really stunning XO

Rebecca said...

Hi Little Monarch - sadly my photography skills aren't this good (!) and the Tate don't allow photos to be taken in the gallery. The image credits are at the end of the post :)

Vanessa said...

Thanks for sharing this!

Dirty Hair Halo said...

Wow, who knew poop could be so pretty!

www.SeekingDirtyHairHalo.blogspot.com

MaryBeth Hughes said...

that first photo is amazing. love it!

happy weekend!

Kelley Anne said...

This is incredible. In wood-paneled room, it feels like a chapel or some sacred space to me. Thanks for sharing.

Christina said...

The exhibit is amazzzzing. So creative and gorgeous. Must be nice to see something like that in person... I need to hit more (contemporary) museums.

Piper said...

Wow, interesting...I'm so glad you found out about the dung! When I first started reading I was like "huh?"! Makes much more sense to me now too. I agree...who knew poop could look so good? :)

Leia said...

WOW! Speechless!

painted fish studio said...

a long time ago, around when i was your age, i saw chris ofili's work in the sensation show in berlin. the show itself hit me like a ton of bricks. i was astounded. dazed. so much so that i dragged my sister back to the museum the next day so i could buy the catalog and remember the show forever. and i still flip through it frequently.

a few months later, sensation came to new york. and mayor rudy giuliani had a fucking fit about ofili's piece, virgin mary, because it had elephant dung and cut outs from pornographic magazines. giuliani threatedned to withdraw $7 million in city subsidies from the brooklyn museum of art, and evict it from it's city-owned premises, solely because of ofili's piece. it was a riot! in the end, the museum won. but it was all rather silly.

(just thought i'd share that piece of history... it's a favorite of mine. sorry for the long comment!)

Helena - A Diary of Lovely said...

rebecca did you see your nomination? http://loveliesaward.blogspot.com/
yay! good for you, you totally deserve it!!!

Jazz said...

ooo! Now I can't wait to go and see it .. ! x

St├ęphanie said...

I adore ! Thanks for sharing !

erin said...

sounds wonderful! nothing like a good museum visit on a winter's day.

Stephanie Sabbe said...

I love the scale of all of these!

Post a Comment