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Ofili and Titian at the National Gallery

Ofili and other poets were recently part of a new show at the National Gallery that featured multiple refractions, some might say, as the entire show was based around three paintings by Titian. The show featured various forms of art, including set designs, paintings, costumes, and poems. In an effort to prepare for the show, Ofili worked with choreographers and dancers from the Royal Opera House and created a ballet that revolved around the theme of the painting ‘Diana and Actaeon.’  Titian was also looking back into the past at the story of Diana, as being similar to the story of Ovid in Metamorphoses.

The paintings done by Ofili ended up looking a bit like they were from the Caribbean, with some slight meditation tossed in by Titian.  The theme of course was challenging to work with from the start, given the fact that the dancers had to respond to the drama which was so forceful that Ofili spent weeks and months drawing and painting.  You could clearly see the fervor of his work in charcoal and pencil painting as well as plenty of acrylic and pastel paintings.  Some of the costumes were even hung up from the individual characters.

In some ways you can see into the creative process of Ofili as you look at how he brings the drama to life on the stage and the way that he visualizes the story.  There are many different ways in which the head of the dog is created, ranging from the humorous designs to mask-like designs.  On the other side of the spectrum, there are some very fluid drawings that portray the dancers lifting into the air and you can see the rich blend of colours that Ofili is known for using freely in his work.


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