The emotional register shifts up still further in Ofili’s most recent work. Nature is evidently a compelling new inspiration. Trinidad is felt in the chromatic brilliance of the colour palette, and the island’s mystery and folklore merges with biblical themes to create richly suggestive subjects.
I wonder if the biblical was always a way to get to the spiritual, for me. When you live somewhere like this, you just become aware of different types of energies. The place itself has an undeniable energy. The force of nature is overwhelming.
Chris Ofili, in Christy Lange, Tate Etc. Spring 2010
The island life his paintings respond to is one of surprise; of swarms of bats, the sudden half hour when day turns to night, figures half seen or imagined in the gloaming.
Judith Nesbitt, in ‘Beginnings’, Chris Ofili exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain 2010
The Healer 2008 depicts an imaginative subject prompted by Ofili’s observation of the Poui tree that, in blossom, is covered with vivid yellow flowers yet suddenly sheds its blossom overnight. I painted the first images of The Healer outdoors during a total lunar eclipse. He is born of the imagination sparked by forms in the clouds hovering over the hills that night. The figure of the Healer is a very dark character, black in fact, who feeds on the bright yellow light of the sun.
Chris Ofili, in ‘Thelma Golden and Chris Ofili in Conversation’, Chris Ofili, Rizzoli 2009