The British painter Chris Ofili’s retrospective at the Tate Britain in London shows a painter reinventing his approach to paint in the middle of a successful career. His previous work used multiple layers of cutouts, paint, glitter, resin, and dung, creating a lush Afro-rococo style with its obsessive decoration and its focus on black figuration. It won awards and the admiration of institutions and collectors. The new work employs a reduced palette, eschews glitter, and rewards the extended gaze in a way that his previous excess could not. This recent work also allows the viewer to reflect on juxtapositions of the sacred and profane, the beautiful and ugly, in Ofili’s earlier work and to consider the implications of his strategic shift.

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