Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic review – a totally tropical tapestry. By Adrian Searle
National Gallery, London
Waterfalls and dancers, Maya Angelou and Mario Balotelli … Chris Ofili’s exotic reverie took five weavers three years to translate from watercolour to tapestry. The result plunges you into a heady over-ripe Eden
Larger than life, the women dance round the walls. Grey upon grey, picked out with darker accents and the soft sheen and sinuous billowing of drapery, the glimmering whiteness of bangles and anklets, necklaces and earrings, hairdos and turbans, the painted chorus of 27 dancers parade across the walls of the Sunley Room at London’s National Gallery. Skinny-waisted, big bellied, swaying and turning, pouting and preening, the women leer and smile amid dense foliage in grey but sultry light giving one another – and us – furtive glances and knowing looks. Three sunbathe on their stomachs above a doorway.
Image: Chris Ofili, The Caged Bird's Song, 2014-2017 (detail)
Wool, cotton and viscose
© Chris Ofili. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London, The Clothworkers' Company and Dovecot Tapestry Studio, Edinburgh. Photography: Gautier Deblonde.