Inadvertently, Tate Britain may be forecasting the fate of hip-hop and its artistic expression through a midcareer retrospective of Chris Ofili’s work. The exhibition presents a number of stages of his development, with an emphasis on the breakout, commercially successful work involving collage and elephant dung. However, Ofili’s work from the past decade illustrates some surprising new directions, particularly the work from 2005 on, after the artist had moved to Trinidad. In particular, Ofili is now invested in investigating very different, if not classically art-historical, themes through dramatic contrasts in the fluidity and brightness of his media. Whereas Ofili began his career illustrating the popular thematic interests of hip-hop, he is now well distanced from the commercial elite of hip-hop and has grown comfortable weaving his own topics into hip-hop’s increasingly international discourse.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.