New Museum

Chris Ofili at the Tate Britain and the New Museum

A major survey of more than 45 of Chris Ofili’s paintings, watercolors, and pencil drawings from the 1990’s to the present are on exhibit at the Tate, London, until May 16th. One of Britain’s most acclaimed and controversial artists working today, Ofili was a winner of the Turner Prize in 1998 and represented Great Britain at the 2003 Venice Biennale.

The Razing of Lazarus (L) and Dance in Shadow. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA

Radius Books had the pleasure of working with Ofili to create the catalogue for his 2009 exhibition Afro Margin, a suite of eight pencil drawings, made from 2004 to 2007 at David Zwirner Gallery in New York in 2009. The limited edition catalogue consists of 500 copies, numbered and signed by the artist.


Ofili’s international reputation was built on his lush and intricate, but infamously divisive, paintings. Current cultural acceptance of his work has come a long way from the controversial 1997 show “Sensation”, in which his painting, The Holy Virgin Mary, was publicly damned by Mayor Giuliani and defaced by an elderly retired school teacher. In contrast, the Tate show has been widely praised by the British media since it opened January 27th, such as this excerpt from The Independent:

“Chris Ofili has his famous signature, of course: the ball of African elephant dung. But don’t let that distract you from his achievement. The paintings in his retrospective at Tate Britain are among the most marvellous of the last 20 years. It’s a public art, an art of luminous colour, an art of wild imagination. If that sounds a peculiar combination, then look at it this way: William Blake’s influence on modern art has taken many forms, but none so strange or true.”

On this side of the pond, Ofili’s work can be currently seen as a part of the exhibit “Skin Fruit: Selections from the Dakis Joannou Collection” curated by Jeff Koons. The exhibit is at the New Museum in New York until June 6th. In a review of the show for the New Yorker, Peter Schjeldahl singled out Ofili’s pieces as, “the occasion’s nearest approach to beauty.”

The Afro Margin catalogue is available in our online store.