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Shock and awe: The art of Chris Ofili

The Independent Friday, 22 January 2010

A major retrospective of Chris Ofili’s work opens at Tate Britain next week. Ekow Eshun talks to Ofili about his new-found ‘sense of freedom’

Ekow Eshun: We’re in your studio in Trinidad, so what brought you here and what took you away from London?

Chris Ofili: I felt in some way things had closed down. London was an exciting place to work at one point, because socially it was very progressive – a catalyst. There were very interesting artists making all types of work, but it got to a point where the social aspect became claustrophobic. The fact it was all happening in London became counter-productive, and highlighted the fact that there’s a big world out there, and places where there isn’t so much vanity about the cultural scene. It also got to a point where I felt the work was really known in a public sense, that the division between public and private was like a thin membrane. And I didn’t feel that gave me a greater sense of freedom. The public is not within my control, but the work is, and I wanted to make changes within the work. That couldn’t happen in an arena that was familiar to me. more