In a deliberate change of pace, Ofili painted a number of more meditative paintings based on an Andy Warhol collage of a monkey holding a chalice. These developed into The Upper Room 1999–2002. The Christian symbolism of the Last Supper fuses with that of other faiths such as the Hindu monkey god Hanuman, and invites multiple interpretations. Ofili collaborated with the architect David Adjaye to create an enclosed environment that enhances the spiritual atmosphere of these paintings.
It was important for the space to feel akin to a space of worship and to experience the kind of feelings you get when you walk in to a place like that. I wondered if that was possible, and whether paintings could enhance that feeling.
Chris Ofili, in ‘Ekow Eshun interviews Chris Ofili’, Chris Ofili exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain 2010
We hoped the architecture and the experience of looking at the artwork were meshed together and that you are not differentiating between one and the other.
David Adjaye, BP British Art Lecture at Tate Britain, 2005