The north staircase at Tate Britain is home to a new work by Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili, and it’s a jaw-dropping, mesmeric, gorgeously colourful tribute to the Grenfell Tower fire. The work has been kept tightly under wraps, but was opened to the public today.
The mural spans huge walls, with the central part dedicated to the artist Khadija Saye, who died in Grenfell Tower. Ofili and Saye had met just a month before the fire, when both were exhibiting in Venice, and their meeting had a huge impact on him.
The ultra-colorful mural acts as a work of remembrance, both to Saye and the other victims of Grenfell. Saye sits in the middle of the piece holding an incense pot – in a pose that echoes one of her own photographs, also on display at Tate Britain – surrounded by mythical imagery and glowing orange, yellow and blue paint.
Ofili rarely uses his work to directly address contemporary political issues, but there are echoes in this new mural of his famous ‘No Woman, No Cry’, a painting in memory of Stephen Lawrence. ‘A statement of sadness was manifested in “No Woman, No Cry”. That feeling of injustice has returned. I wanted to make a work in tribute to Khadija Saye. Remembering the Grenfell Tower fire, I hope that the mural will continue to speak across time to our collective sadness.’
‘Requiem’ is open now at Tate Britain. More details here.
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