Chris Ofili | Tate Britain

Chris Ofili, Blossom, 1997 © Chris Ofili   Photo: courtesy Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin

Chris Ofili, Blossom, 1997 © Chris Ofili Photo: courtesy Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin

Tate let-down is Chris Ofili.  I’m sorry, this exhibition stinks.  As an art critic it’s my job to honestly tell you this.  Masquerading under the black African experience Ofili is still, hopelessly, lacking in skill as he tries, painfully, to express the wonderful primitive fetishism of African art.  His doctrinaire formula of decorating his canvas with elephant dung and glow-in-the-dark dots of bright fluorescent colour are now nothing more than simply naïve.  Much overworked and predictably garish.

It all started going wrong when Ofili was a student. Over-rated, over-praised, he received eulogize for the superficial four-letter expletive art he created, and it destroyed him.

Look around the walls.  A firework explosion of decorative doily patterns of paint overlaid with a collage of porno photos, glitter and a beadwork of counterfeit Zimbabwean paint blobs covering elephant dung, doing the same thing, over and over, there is no development.

Enter Michael Landy’s Art Bin.

Ofili, a Turner prize winner and trustee of the Tate, saw their purchase of ‘The Upper Room’ (for £705,000), which, no doubt references the Christian’s The Last Supper.  Either, so overpoweringly unimportant as a work of art, or by design a heretical slight, his monkeys hold chalices, prove to be the best piece of this juvenile run.  What a sham(e).

©Estelle Lovatt FRSA


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