Texts by Klaus Kertess and Cameron Shaw
Few artists's names can connote such diverse associations as the Virgin Mary, Rudolph Giuliani and elephant dung. Controversy tends to dog the art of Chris Ofili, and former New York Mayor Giuliani's suspension of funding for the Brooklyn Museum upon its exhibition of his 1996 painting The Holy Virgin Mary in 1999 was but one instance of the ire Ofili routinely arouses. When these occasional media commotions subside, one sees that the work is actually pleasing in more familiar ways: Ofili's surfaces sparkle with smears of glitter and bright veneer, resembling nothing so much as African icons. But Ofili has always been political, specifically in his confrontations with racial cliché, and in his insistent incorporation of materials from popular black culture. Devil's Pie derives its title from singer-songwriter D'Angelo's 1998 lyric meditation on temptation and retribution. According to the song, the ingredients of a devil's pie include "materialistic, greed and lust, jealousy, envious / bread and dough, cheddar cheese, flash and stash, cash and cream." Similarly diverse in its references and dichotomies, Ofili's work contains contradictions. This catalogue collects his work in sculpture, painting, printmaking, and graphite drawing for the first time and includes texts by art writer and curator Klaus Kertess and writer Cameron Shaw.