The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
—John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book XII
David Zwirner is pleased to present Paradise Lost, an exhibition of new work by Chris Ofili. This presentation touches on themes of lost innocence, alienation, and desire. On view at 533 West 19th Street in New York, this will be Ofili’s third solo exhibition at the gallery.
Paradise Lost both returns to and expands upon ideas Ofili presented earlier this year in his solo exhibition Weaving Magic at the National Gallery, London, where he debuted his tapestry The Caged Bird’s Song. Commissioned by the British Clothworkers' Company, the tapestry was made in collaboration with the internationally renowned Dovecot Tapestry Studio in Edinburgh. In Paradise Lost, Ofili poses "the question of the sweetness of the song—is the sweeter song the song of the uncaged bird, or the song of the caged bird? And what that really is asking about liberation and constraint, and how that could potentially relate to being human."
"Ofili makes paintings that will not let us be. For more than two decades, the work of this British artist has dazzled and discomfited, seduced and unsettled, gliding effortlessly between high and low, among cultures, ricocheting off different racial stereotypes and religious beliefs. His paintings mesmerize, whether with their opulent dotted surfaces or bawdy eroticism, their perfumed colors or their riffs on established masterpieces."—Roberta Smith, The New York Times
"His work operates on multiple registers . . . it is as much about form as it is about vision and visuality, about presence and experience . . . [it] demands constantly that we as viewers reconsider anew that painting has multiple traditions and that the canons of art are yet to be foreclosed."—Okwui Enwezor, "Shattering the Mirror of Tradition: Chris Ofili's Triumph of Painting at the 50th Venice Biennale"
Published to accompany the artist's first major museum survey in the United States at the New Museum in New York in 2014, Chris Ofili: Night and Day is a richly illustrated volume including texts by Massimiliano Gioni, Glenn Ligon, Minna Moore Ede, Alicia Ritson, Matthew Ryder, Robert Storr, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Published by Skira Rizzoli