Review – Chris Ofili’s most recent show at the Victoria Miro Gallery has opened in time to parallel Frieze week. It features a body of work, studies on paper and canvas, inspired by Roman Ovid’s poem, Metamorphosis. Collaborating with The National Gallery and The Royal Opera House, Ofili as well as other contemporary artists are working towards a set design and a series of costumes for the new ballet Diana & Actaeon; the name, taken from Titian’s 1556 painting which depicts the two characters from Ovid’s poem, the moment in which the goddess Diana first meets Actaeon.
For the past two years Ofili has been working on a series of studies which are shown here for the first time. Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 presents three ballets inspired by Titian; Machina, Trespass, and Diana & Actaeon, which were on show until earlier this summer.
Ovid’s Metamorphosis has triggered a vast body of studies; which range from charcoal drawings to vibrant, energetic paintings.
Seeing Ofili’s studies here immediately brings to mind Picasso’s collaboration with Diaghilev, working on his 1917 Ballet Parade. For Diana & Actaeon, Ofili recreated Ovid’s landscape into a tropical forest, bursting with colour and vibrancy. One can see the dancer’s movements in all Ofili’s studies: the energy in which the works were made with are clear to the viewer’s eye. Photographs of head pieces are included in some studies, illustrating Ofili’s thought process. An extremely large, magnificent piece, to take and to give, is a large-scale acrylic painting depicting women offering gifts to the sky. A beautiful, colourful, powerful piece, this seems to sum up Ofili’s collaboration with the ballet.
Born in 1968 and educated at the Royal College of Art, Ofili lives and works in Trinidad. He has enjoyed many major international exhibitions dedicated to his work, in early 2010, Tate Britain presented the most extensive exhibition of his work to date. Other significant solo exhibitions include The Arts Club of Chicago (2010), Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover (2006), The Studio Museum In Harlem, New York (2005) and Serpentine Gallery, London (1998). Chris Ofili won the Turner Prize in 1998 and represented Britain at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003.
Whilst maintaining Ofili’s style of drawing, the artist has created a strong new body of work which goes beyond past the series Metamorphosis: Titian 2012; but becomes an on going, poignant piece of artwork