The Artist Chris Ofili Captures Trinidad, in Pictures
Earlier this year, Chris Ofili was the subject of a solo show at the National Gallery in London called "Weaving Magic," where he debuted an expansive, hand-woven tapestry. And last month, he opened another exhibition, titled "Paradise Lost," at David Zwirner in New York, which showcases four oil-and-charcoal paintings and one sculpture: a human puppet, suspended in a bird cage crafted out of wood and gold-plated wire.
But the British artist, who has lived in Trinidad since 2005, uses photography to enhance his practice. For a new series — which will be published in a forthcoming book and which debuts exclusively here — the artist captured scenes around the neighborhoods, hills and coastline of northern Trinidad last summer. "'Pocket photography' is a way of gathering and storing information, but also a way of capturing information that the fleeting eye might not capture," Ofili tells T in an email about his process. "I am not downgrading it to call it pocket photography, just describing it. This is not done with a tripod, but out of the pocket, the same way everyone else takes photos. The only difference here is that this is very focused subject matter."
He says the subject matter of the pictures — sidewalks, palm trees and chain-link fences — speaks to the themes in his show at Zwirner. "The ideas and imagery come all at once," he writes. "There's an idea, a feeling, that's triggered by the experience of seeing these settings, and I wouldn't separate the inspiration from the artwork in the exhibition. They come from the same experience."